Nutritional link up brings fish oil finance to University of Stirling – Fishupdate.com

Nutritional link up brings fish oil finance to University of Stirling Published:  29 March, 2007

A NEW business link created between the University of Stirling and Scotland’s first nutritional health clinic could see up to £50,000 poured into the Scottish economy.

Dr Gordon Bell – a biochemist based within the Institute of Aquaculture in Stirling – has teamed up with Dr Tom Gilhooly – a GP from Glasgow – to offer patients an innovative new service testing the Omega -3 levels in their blood.

The Essential Health Clinic is the only facility in Scotland to offer conclusive tests to examine the nutritional status of patients’ blood and then recommend appropriate guidance through supplementation and dietary change. Dr Gilhooly has found that working with patients to increase their Omega-3 levels can help to treat conditions as varied as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) to depression, drug addiction to Crohn’s Disease.

Balances of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the body are important as they have an extremely strong influence on levels of inflammation. This is not only important for conditions where swelling of the skin is obvious, such as arthritis or MS, but can also prove of even greater significance when dealing with “silent inflammation”. This type of problem takes place in the arteries, and can lead to heart disease or strokes. A recent study in Italy* found that the incidence of sudden death by heart attack was reduced by 45% in those taking Omega-3 supplements.

Until now, the Omega-3 tests performed by Dr Gilhooly were sent away to a lab in the United States for analysis, since no other European facilities had passed random sample testing performed by the Essential Health Clinic. However, Dr Bell, a member of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, got in touch with Dr Gilhooly to offer the University of Stirling’s services and as a result an exciting connection has been made.

Dr Gilhooly said: “The clinic only launched in February 2007 and we have already begun testing on over 100 samples. This means enormous potential income for the Nutrition Analytical Service Laboratories in Stirling. Because the scientists there use innovative red blood cell fatty acid analysis this means that we have removed the need for patient fasting prior to testing from the process, which some people can find difficult.

“The lab is also performing an oxidative stress test for us, which measures the levels of local hormones produced by fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6. This allows us to check whether balances are correct after administering Omega-3. Ideally we look for a ratio of 1:3 Omega-3 to Omega-6.”

Dr Bell, who has himself been involved with cutting edge research into essential fatty acid deficiencies in patients with autism and those with dyslexia, Aperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder. He said: “This opportunity with the Essential Health Clinic is not only beneficial for the University of Stirling from a business perspective, but also presents opportunities to boost biomedical research within Scotland and worldwide due to potential research collaborations and investment.”

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