15th International Conference of FFC - Third International Symposium of ASFFBC:

 Mental, Neurological and other Chronic Disorders:  Bio-markers, Bioactive Compounds, and Functional Foods

May 10-11, 2014, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany 


Conference Report

The “15th International Conference of FFC - Third International Symposium of ASFFBC Mental, Neurological and other Chronic Disorders:  Bio-markers, Bioactive Compounds, and Functional Foods ", an international scientific conference, was held May 10-11th, 2014 Regensburg, Germany. This 15th annual conference was organized by the University of Regensburg, Department of Experimental psychology and the Functional Food Center, and hosted at University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.

The conference brought together experts in medicine, biology, and the food industry to discuss the contribution of functional/medical foods and bioactive compounds in the prevention and management of neurological diseases. The best experts in the field of functional foods, from all over the world, gathered at the 15th International Conference to discuss the role of nutrition and dietary factors in mental health. Research was presented as results of pre-clinical studies of bioactive compounds and clinical results of clinical studies, and the research and development of new functional food products.

The 15th International Conference was different from other International Conferences, since the topic of the conference was presented for the first time. More than 40 countries represented in the conference, including universities and food companies. For the first time, a panel discussion was conducted at the end on the topic Is functional food able to manage mental and neurological disorders”? The panel committee members included Dr. Klaus W. Lange, Dr. Shiming Li, Dr. Ahmed F. El Fouhil and Dr. Danik Martirosyan. Also, legislation on health claims was presented regarding the Food laws in European countries.

The conference covered eight sessions, including oral and poster presentations. The presenters included session topics involving Functional Foods and mental health, Prevention and management of mental and neurological disorders: Complementary and alternative medicine approaches, Bioactive compounds, functional and medical foods in the prevention and management of mental and neurological disorders and Legislation on health claims: Health, functional and medical food

We would like to make special note and mention a few of the many interesting, informative and well-communicated presentations that took place at the 15th International Conference this year:

The conference opened with a Welcome speech made by Dr. Klaus W. Lange, Head of Experimental Psychology Department; University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany, and Dr. Danik Martirosyan, president of Functional Food Center of Dallas, Texas, USA.

Andreas Reissmann, University of Regensburg, Germany presented on “Gluten-free and casein-free diets in the treatment of autism”. The presentation included the information from their study to show a diet low in gluten and casein proteins has been hypothesized to ameliorate the behavioral symptoms of children with autism. A review was conducted of the scientific literature concerning dietary effects on various outcome measures.

Dr. Ewelina Makulska-GertrudaPhD: University of Regensburg, Germany presented a poster entitled “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and ADHD-related symptoms in animals”. Their study examined the influence of n-3 PUFA supplementation on attention and impulsivity in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). They concluded that an administration of n-3 PUFAs can improve the cognitive or behavioral symptoms in children with ADHD and may therefore have some therapeutical effects.

Kelli Herrlinger, R&D Scientist, Kemin Foods, L.C., Des Moines, IA, USA, presented a lecture entitled “Spearmint extract containing Rosmarinic acid improves cognitive function in a SAMP8 mouse model of accelerated aging and in men and women with self-reported memory impairment”. Their study was designed to test if a novel, proprietary spearmint extract containing RA is efficacious in improving learning and memory in a mouse model of accelerated aging. A follow-up open-label, pilot human clinical trial was conducted using the spearmint extract to both confirm the cognitive function benefits identified in the animal study and determine the safety and tolerance in men and women with self-reported memory impairment which showed positive results.

Luísa Custódio, Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve, presented a poster on “Microalgae extracts exhibit in vitro neuroprotective features through inhibition of cholinesterase and protection of the human dopaminergic cell line SH-SY5Y from hydrogen peroxide-induced cytotoxicity”. Their study evaluated the in vitro capacity of extracts of microalgae to inhibit enzymes related with neurological diseases, which indicates that B. braunii and N. oculata contains compounds displaying multiple features useful for the relief of symptoms associated with neurological disorders.

The awardees of the 15th International Conference for the lecture and poster presentations are: Dr. Luisa Barreira, Dr. Luisa Custodia, Andreas Reissmann, Dr. Ewelina Makulska-Gertruda, PhD, Kelli Herrlinger. Dr. Luisa Barreira and Dr. Luisa Custodia. They have shared the first place of student presentations and won $500. Reissmann secured second place, winning $200. Dr. Makulska-Gertruda won the best research in clinical with $400, and Herrlinger won for Research and Development with $400. All the awardees were also presented with the book Introduction to Functional Foods Science”, by Dr. Danik Martirosyan.

Dr. Klaus W. Lange, Chair of Biological, Clinical and Neuropsychology; Head of Experimental Psychology Department; University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany gave an oral presentation on Dietary factors in the etiology and therapy of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder”. Their study provided a comprehensive overview of the role of dietary factors in the etiology and therapy of ADHD. Diets to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD include sugar-restricted, additive/preservative-free, elimination, and fatty acid supplements. Results of recent research and controlled studies regarding ADHD and diets were included in this. Free fatty acid supplementation has been demonstrated to produce small but significant reductions in ADHD symptoms. Their study concluded that a substantial efficacy of diet in the therapy of ADHD remains uncertain and further investigations are needed.

Dr. Joachim Hauser, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany gave a poster presentation entitled The effects of dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid deficiency on local discrimination in Wistar rats”. This includes the investigation of the effects of dietary n-3 PUFA deficiency on spatial memory in rats, as measured by a local discrimination task. Eight generations of Wistar rats were used, fed with experimental n-3 PUFA deficient diet and compared. Both groups showed a significant decline in the percentage of correct responses and underline the importance of n-3 PUFAs for neuronal development and cognitive functions.

Dr. Sybille Buchwald-Werner, PhD: Managing Director, Vital Solutions GmbH, Germany, gave a presentation on “Lemon balm for mental health: Modulation of muscarinic receptor activity by a proprietary Melisse officinalis extract”. Their objective was the development of a special lemon balm extract for mental health, which combines traditional calming effects with new cognitive benefits. Phytochemical - and bioassay - guided development process applying human muscarinic M1 receptor binding studies were used. A special lemon balm extract was developed that has muscarinic receptor binding activity supporting mental health and cognitive performance.

Dr. Nina Mikirova, Riordan Clinic, Wichita, KS, presented on The orthomolecular correction of metabolic imbalances found in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A retrospective analysis in an outpatient clinic”. Their study identified the metabolic imbalances in fatty acid, amino acid, mineral, and pyrrole levels in ADHD patients, and examined the effectiveness of the nutritional approach in the correction of these imbalances in an outpatient clinic. The study was based on the data extracted from patient history database covering a period of over 10 years. Blood levels of fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, hair analysis of heavy metals and urine pyrrole levels were done on all patients. Children and adolescents were administered an integrative protocol for ADHD treatment. In the studied population, it was demonstrated that metabolic correction of biochemical disturbances using essential fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals can improve fatty acid profiles and metabolic stress levels. These disturbances, or variations from reference values, have been associated with behavior typical of ADHD. Their data suggests that at least two of the factors that were the most abnormal, omega-6-to-omega-3 ratios and pyrrole levels, and can in fact improve in subjects undergoing a regimen with nutrient supplementation.

Dr. Stefan Crynen, The Roskamp Institute, Sarasota, FL, USA,gave a presentation entitled “The Brain Reserve Index (BRI) - Quantifying and influencing current risk associated with Alzheimer's disease through lifestyle choices and medical risk management”. Their study involved the development of ‘The Brain Reserve Index (BRI) to quantify the associated risk factors that provides a guide as to whether one is at an increased or decreased risk compared to the average population. The lifestyle factor scores and the medical risk factors are combined to derive the BRI. They concluded that the Brain Reserve Index (BRI), in combination with individualized lifestyle recommendations and brain health coaching, is a new and unique tool to quantify and reduce risk factors associated with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

Dr. Mohammed S. Ali-Shtayeh, Biodiversity and Environmental Research Center (BERC), Til, Nablus, Palestine presented on In-vitro screening of acethylcholinestrase (AChE) inhibitory activity of extracts from Palestinian indigenous flora in relation to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease”. Their objective was to explore newly potent and safe natural therapeutic agents for the AD treatment by evaluating in vitro the anti-cholinesterase potential of a number of selected Palestinian medicinal plants. Among the 40 Palestinian plants analyzed, several plants showed inhibitory activity of AChE enzyme and their research concluded that such plants may help in preventing or alleviating patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Julius Oben, Laboratory of Nutrition and Nutritional Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon presented on “Neuroprotective activity and Secretase enzyme inhibition of an extract of Baillonella toxisperma on experimentally induced neurotoxicity in rats”. Their study aimed to investigate the effect of a hydroethanolic extract of Baillonella toxisperma on the oxidative stress status and Aβ deposition in Alzheimer’s disease-like induced rats. They observed that treatment with HEBT resulted in a marked appreciable improvement in brain MDA content observed in AlCl3 treated rats.

Dr. Yukiko Nakamura,  Graduate School of Information Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Takayamacho, Ikoma, Nara, Japan gave a presentation on “KNApSAcK metabolite activity database is helpful for brain and mental health related studies and services”. They conducted a study to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between the metabolites of organisms and their chemical-level contribution to human health by constructing a metabolite-activity database (DB), called KNApSAcK Metabolite Activity DB, which comprises triplets, i.e., metabolites, target species and activities. The KNApSAcK Metabolite Activity DB could be utilized for developing novel drugs and materials.

Dr. Torsten Grothe, Manager Scientific Affairs, Frutarom Switzerland, Switzerland presented on “Wild green oat extract: an innovative functional food ingredient with cognitive benefits”.  Their study included a bio-assay-guided to develop an extract suitable for inclusion in dietary supplements and functional foods, using Phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) and Monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibition. Safety and in vivo proof of concept studies were successfully performed and followed by three human trials. Their results identified a reasonable mode of action for green oat preparations explaining the traditional effects. Human trials approved the cognitive benefits of green oat extract with a focus on mental alertness and concentration.

Dr. Erfan Younesi, Department of Bioinformatics, Fraunhofer Institute SCAI, Sankt Augustin, Germany presented on “Evidence-based modeling of mode-of-action for functional ingredients influencing Alzheimer’s disease through neurotrophin pathway”. Their study determined to find out diets that are causally linked to the agonistic activity of BDNF, to investigate mode-of-action of those functional diets and to demonstrate the proof-of-concept application of systems biology methods. A “differential model analysis” between the normal and diseased states was performed. The proposed evidence-based rationale for modeling the mode-of-action provided novel mechanistic insights into the BDNF-regulated survival pathway.

Giorgio Rusconi, Lawyer, Mondini Rusconi Legal Firm, Italy gave a presentation on “The European legal framework of functional food: The differences in the procedures of authorization in EU countries”. The purpose of the presentation was to offer an explanation of the European Legal principle on the matter and of clarifying the peculiarities of each Member State’s legislation, expressly concerned the procedures of authorization of functional food. It offers an overview of each Country’s legislation regarding the respective legal situation within the framework of the existing EU law. The conclusion was (since consumers' demand for food with specific health benefits had increased the economic importance of developing, producing and marketing functional food), it could be desirable a progressive rapprochement between each single legislation about functional food, under an European legal framework.

Dr. Annegret Auinger, Senior Consultant, Analyze&Realize GmbH, Berlin, Germany presented on Health Claims on cognitive function - The science behind the legislation”. This presentation was about EFSA. The European Food Safety Authority is tasked by the European Commission with giving scientific opinions to health claim applications, including health claims for cognition. So far, no innovative, product-specific cognition claims have been approved by the Community. From its guidelines and the opinions EFSA has given so far on cognitive health claims, a number of factors influencing the quality of a study can be gleaned. In summary, there are several regulatory and scientific aspects to be considered starting from product development of innovative ingredients targeted brain health to the design of an appropriate study and the application of a claim application.

Dr. Jintanaporn Wattanathorn, Department of Physiology, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand presented on “Anacardium occidentale based drink improves working memory, attention and cognitive processing capability of older adults via the increased cholinergic and monoaminergic functions”. The study was conducted to determine the effect and 8-week consumption of cashew apple fruit juice on working memory, attention, cognitive processing and the function of cholinergic and monoamine systems. The cholinergic and monoaminergic systems functions were determined using acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and monoamine oxidase (MAO) activities as indices. Their data suggested that 8-week consumption of cashew apple fruit juice improved the function of cholinergic and monoaminergic systems, giving rise to the increased working memory, attention and cognitive processing capability.

Please click here to see sample of power point presentation (by Professor Klaus Lange). Let us know if you are interested in the conference book or presentation slides.