News Briefs


New Alzheimer’s Disease Marker Has Implications for Brain Supplements

man with a brain disorder such as AD

Elevated blood levels of the enzyme PHGDH may be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a new study published in Cell Metabolism.

Researchers examined post-mortem human brains and found that expression levels of the gene coding for PHGDH were higher in people with AD, even years before cognitive symptoms appeared. The study looked at three groups:

  • people with AD
  • asymptomatic people who showed early signs of Alzheimer's-related changes in post-mortem analysis
  • healthy controls.

There was a consistent increase in PHGDH expression among the first two groups and the expression levels were higher the more advanced the disease. Investigators also found a steep increase in PHGDH gene expression in healthy individuals approximately two years before they were diagnosed with the disease.

The findings have implications for serine supplements, which are advertised to improve memory and cognitive function. Serine supplements were developed based on the idea that people with AD have too little serine, but this study suggests that opposite: PHGDH is a key enzyme in the production of serine. Increased PHGDH expression, then, suggests that the rate of serine production in the brain is also elevated. Additional serine supplementation, therefore, is not beneficial.

"Anyone looking to recommend or take serine to mitigate Alzheimer's symptoms should exercise caution," said researcher Riccardo Calandrelli, PhD.

Source: Xu Chen, Riccardo Calandrelli, John Girardini, Zhangming Yan, Zhiqun Tan, Xiangmin Xu, Annie Hiniker, Sheng Zhong. PHGDH expression increases with progression of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and symptoms. Cell Metabolism, 2022; 34 (5): 651 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2022.02.008


Mental Health Concerns Rising

Woman with seasonal affective disorder

Mental health concerns are increasing among adults, particularly those who are Black, either young or older than 65, and identify as LGBTQIA+, according to a CVS Health survey.

  • About 59% of survey respondents reported that they have experienced concerns about their own mental health or that of family and friends, a 9%-point increase since April 2020.
  • 57% of respondents who identify as LGBTQIA+ expressed concerns about their own mental health, 20%-points higher compared to other respondents.
  • 74% of respondents ages 18 to 34 experienced mental health concerns for themselves, family or friends—a 12%-point increase compared to two years ago.
  • Black Americans surveyed saw an 11%-point increase in mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic.
  • 40% of respondents ages 65 and older experienced mental health concerns for themselves, family or friends, reflecting a 10%-point increase compared to two years ago.

The poll of 2,209 adults was conducted between April 6 and 9, 2022.

Seeking Care

People are also becoming more comfortable with seeking out mental health resources. Most respondents agreed that society has become more comfortable engaging in mental health discussions (56%), using digital tools to improve mental health (58%), and using telemedicine for therapy (63%). The growing use of telemedicine and digital tools to treat mental health can be a welcome option for those who are apprehensive about receiving mental health care in person.

"Despite the longstanding stigma and other challenges in mental health, there is a clear shift taking place through the power of technology," said CVS Health President and CEO Karen S. Lynch. "CVS Health provided 10 million virtual mental health visits last year, compared to 20,000 prior to the pandemic, which is enabling us to meet the growing demand brought on by COVID-19. We are firmly committed to developing new programs and resources that help make mental health care more routine, convenient and accessible for all communities."

"The impact of isolation, loss, grief and burnout will effect of our mental health for years to come," said Cara McNulty, President, Behavioral Health and Mental Well-being, CVS Health. "As a result, we continue to expand services and resources to meet the long-term needs of communities, workforces – including our own – and loved ones to make gains on our goal to reduce suicide attempts 20 percent among our membership by the year 2025, which is an imperative."


Low-Dose Aspirin a No-Go for Low-Risk Patients Says USPSTF

heart disease and mental illness

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released its final recommendations on low-dose aspirin therapy for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults. The guidance aligns with what the American Heart Association said in 2019:

• People with a history of atrial fibrillation (AFib), heart attack, vascular stenting, or stroke should continue to take low-dose aspirin.

• People with no history of cardiovascular disease or stroke should not take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke.

Low-risk adults with a higher risk for bleeding should not take low-dose aspirin. Because of the blood-thinning effects of aspirin, for most adults, the risk of bleeding may be greater than the number of heart attacks or strokes actually prevented.

• Some middle-aged adults may benefit from low-dose aspirin therapy if they are at high risk for heart attack or stroke owing to risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or significant family history.

“We continue to urge clinicians to be extremely selective when prescribing aspirin for adults without known cardiovascular disease,” notes Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, president of the American Heart Association.

“For example, people with higher risk for gastric or intracerebral bleeding should not take aspirin to prevent a CV event. Aspirin should be limited to only those adults at the highest risk for cardiovascular disease due to the presence and severity of other risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or significant family history, who also have a very low risk of bleeding. Some recent evidence also indicates some people with higher coronary calcium scores, >100 units, indicating higher plaque burden and risk, may also benefit from aspirin therapy if they have no history of prior bleeding.”

Low-dose aspirin is not appropriate to prevent a first heart attack or stroke in most people. Instead, most people would benefit from lifestyle changes. “Various research studies over the past two decades indicate more than 80% of all cardiovascular events may be prevented by healthy lifestyle changes and management of known risk factors (like high blood pressure and adverse cholesterol levels) with medication when needed,” notes Dr. Lloyd-Jones.

“Eating healthy foods and beverages, regular physical activity, and not smoking are key. The scientific evidence continues to confirm healthy lifestyle habits and effectively managing blood pressure and cholesterol are the top ways to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, not low-dose aspirin.”


VillageMD Expanding in Massachusetts

WebMd and Walgreens

Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD are planning to open 10 new Village Medical at Walgreens locations in Massachusetts by the beginning of 2023. The first will be in Quincy, with more to follow in the Boston area.

With these new openings, VillageMD and Walgreens will have opened more than 100 practices across 13 markets, including Arizona, Florida, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana. The companies are on track to open more than 200 primary care practices by the end of 2022, more than 600 by 2025 and 1,000 by 2027, with more than half of those practices in medically underserved communities.

The new practices will create more than 350 full-time jobs and employ more than 150 STEM professionals, such as physicians, nurse practitioners and medical assistants.


EnsembleIQ Brandlab Wins Awards for Digital Excellence


EIQ BrandLab, a full-service strategic marketing and creative agency operated by CCC's parent company EnsembleIQ, received seven AVA Digital Awards in an international competition administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The program recognizes excellence by creative professionals responsible for the planning, concept, direction, design, and production of digital communications. 

Each of the award-winning entries was developed in partnership with clients ranging from CPG brands to enterprise technology companies.   

Platinum Awards


Gold Awards

 “EIQ BrandLab aspires to be a true firebrand in business marketing, and we’re honored to work with some of the most forward-thinking companies in retail, health care, and hospitality. We are very proud to have been recognized by the AVA Digital Awards for our work,” said Darren Ursino, Vice President, Brand Engagement, EnsembleIQ.

 “The redesigned EnsembleIQ corporate website, created by EIQ BrandLab, has been well received by our audience. We are very pleased to have received this honor from the AVA Digital Awards,” said Joe Territo, Executive Vice President, Content and Communications, EnsembleIQ.

To learn more about EnsembleIQ, visit Stay connected with EnsembleIQ on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.



Kansas NPs Granted Full Practice Authority

Doctor with pediatric patient

Kansas is the 26th state to adopt full practice authority (FPA) for nurse practitioners.

FPA allows NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. This regulatory framework eliminates requirements for NPs to hold a state-mandated contract with a physician as a condition of state licensure and to provide patient care.

"This law is a necessary step toward eliminating health care disparities, managing costs and building the health care workforce for Kansas," said Jon Fanning, chief executive officer of The American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

"States that have adopted Full Practice Authority are better positioned to address these critical issues. Today, patients in most states have full and direct access to NPs and these benefits. We call on the remaining states to follow suit and modernize their licensure laws to ensure patients have full and direct access to high-quality, nurse practitioner-delivered care."

"This is a major milestone in health care for Kansas and for our nation," said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of AANP. "We celebrate as Kansas becomes the 26th state to grant patients full and direct access to nurse practitioners' care. The majority of states have now adopted this legislative model, known as Full Practice Authority."