Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vallejo's Touro University shows off research developments

Touro University shows off research developments

By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Article Launched:03/08/2007 06:19:36 AM PST
A popular tea from Uruguay to prevent heart disease, and a skin patch to control high blood pressure - these are just two possible outcomes of medical research Touro University students and professors have undertaken.

More than 200 students and professors crowded onto Touro's Lander Hall on Wednesday to learn more about medical research taking place at the Mare Island campus and in collaboration with other schools and institutions.

Without the medical jargon, the research projects speak to critical health issues headlining medical news, such as obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and dementia.

"We are developing a research program that's competitive," said research director Alejandro Gugliucci, a Touro biochemistry professor. "We've had a phenomenal growth in the quantity and quality of our research," he said.

As students and professors examined the displays, third-year osteopathic medical student Brienna Cross fielded questions about research studying the beneficial effects of mate tea which comes from a tree native to Uruguay.

Cross and the team looked at the tea's ability to boost paraoxonase, an enzyme associated with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which is believed to lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Conclusions show the tea can help protect HDL from a variety of harmful substances, Cross said.

Cross said the work is exciting because many people are interested in alternative medicine, such as herbs and teas.

Some research has taken students and professors into the community, such as a study Touro Associate Professor Peter Baginsky undertook with the aim of finding an easy and inexpensive way to detect diabetes. That so many have diabetes but don't know it is "a disaster, an epidemic. We need to find a way to screen people," he said.

The project involved giving people a substance known as A1C which is usually used to measure glucose in people after they have been diagnosed. Baginsky said he wanted to determine if it could be used to help determine if people have the disease.

While Touro students' and professors' work generated excitement, the hall buzzed with talk about University of South Carolina professor of chemistry and biochemistry John Baynes, who delivered a keynote talk on diabetes.

Baynes said research suggests diabetes ages people faster than normal. If that is so, drugs can be designed to counter those effects, he said.

"People are low-temperature ovens with 75-year cycles," Baynes said. "That process gets sped up with diabetes."

Touro public affairs consultant Bonnie Hays said Wednesday's 6th Annual Research Day points out the need for the school to expand into Mare Island's north end. In January, Touro won City Council approval to negotiate on a possible retail corridor and education village on a 190-acre area parcel on the former Naval base.

E-mail Sarah Rohrs at or call 553-6832.

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