Patent granted in Ireland

Today, the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland approved the application by Howard Foundation Holdings of a patent for “Prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative disease”. The inventors are the late Dr Alan Howard, Professor John Nolan of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland and Dr Riona Mulcahy of the University Hospital, Waterford.

This follows the granting of the patent in the UK in November 2019 and in the USA in November 2020.

Supplement Certified at the Howard Laboratory

The Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have announced the creation of a certification process for nutritional supplements containing carotenoids. The team behind Supplement Certified work at the Howard Laboratory in the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) at WIT.

The laboratory is named after Dr Alan Howard who supported much of the early research at NRCI into the use of dietary supplements containing carotenoids to enhance eye and brain health. The idea for testing the actual carotenoid content of nutritional supplements against their label claims came from Dr Howard during the work on the Meso-zeozanthin Ocular Supplementation Trials (MOST) which began in 2010. The trials were showing some surprising results and Dr Howard suggested testing the supplements that were being used. This showed that supplements may not actually contain what the label says and this amount may also decline over time.

The team, led by Professor John Nolan and Dr Alfonso Prado-Cabrero, have been involved in research into nutritional supplements for over 20 years. In the last few months they have analysed some 47 nutritional supplements containing carotenoids and found that 64% do not meet the content described on their labels. The team have also worked with supplement producers to help them improve their products so that they do indeed contain what the label states and what the consumer expects.

Click here for the Press Release and click here for the Supplement Certified website.

Over a decade of HF Supported Research

For over a decade, the Howard Foundation has supported research into the health benefits of the three macular carotenoids: Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin. This has led to a number of research trials and scientific papers published in many journals.

The most significant of these papers have now been gathered together on the Publications page of this website. This shows the story of the development of the research, first into eye health and latterly into eye and brain health. It highlights the major trials, sponsored either fully by the Foundation or in conjunction with others: MOST, CREST (the gold-standard trial funded by the European Research Council), CARDS and CARES.

The latest study, the Re-MIND trial, is due to report later in 2021.

Click here to see the Publications page and click here for the personal recollections from the late Dr Alan Howard on how this research developed.

Prestigious Award for Howard Research Fellow

Dr Rebecca Power, a Howard Research Fellow at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), in the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), has been awarded a European fellowship to allow her to continue her research training and career development. She will spend one year at the University of Illinois with Professor Aron Barbey before returning to Waterford to continue her work with Professor John Nolan.

For over five years, the Foundation has funded Rebecca’s research on the role of nutrition in cognitive health. She is the first beneficiary of the MSCA fellowship award from WIT.

Dr Power stated: “The work that I will undertake during the MSCA fellowship will further improve our understanding of the parts of the brain and neural networks that are strengthened by specific foods.

Dr Rebecca Power holding the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)
Individual Fellowship award

Click here to read the full press release.

Analysis of clinical trials supports HF research

For over ten years, the Howard Foundation has been supporting research at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) into the important of dietary supplements containing carotenoids towards eye and brain health.

A new paper published this month in the journal Antioxidants surveyed some 435 papers that addressed the effect of carotenoid intervention on cognitive function and selected nine for a meta-analysis. The meta-analysis included only randomized controlled trials which are considered the ‘gold standard’ of clinical studies. The 2018 paper from Rebecca Power at WIT is one of the nine that were selected.

The new paper, Carotenoids and Cognitive Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Intervention Trials, focussed on nine studies of healthy adults aged from 45 to 78 years. It states that “Although further studies are needed, our results suggest that carotenoid interventions are associated with better cognitive performance. Thus, these dietary compounds may help to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.” It concludes: “these results highlight the potential role of carotenoids in the protection of mental functions even in subjects without cognitive impairment. This is particularly important because the population is aging, and preservation of cognitive function is crucial for individual autonomy and quality of life“.

Rebecca Power has received direct support from the Howard Foundation. Click here to read her paper, Supplemental Retinal Carotenoids Enhance Memory in Healthy Individuals with Low Levels of Macular Pigment in A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, that was co-authored by Dr Alan Howard and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rebecca’s paper reviewed data taken from the Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trial [CREST] published in 2014 and subsequently widely cited.

Alzheimers’ research sponsored by the Foundation gains US patent

The late Dr Alan Howard, PhD, began studying the effects of carotenoids on eye health over ten years ago. He joined with Professor John Nolan and his team at the Nutrition Research Centre in Waterford Ireland to conduct scientific research. Having established significant benefits to eye health, Dr Howard instigated further research on the potential effects of carotenoids plus fish oils on the brain. Clinical trials, conducted by Professor Nolan and Professor Riona Mulcahy, have had positive results from patients with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease.

As a result of this research, a patent for the discovery was granted in the UK in 2018 and, on 17th November 2020, the United States Patent Office have granted the application for the “Prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative disease”.

The title page of the US patent grant is show below. For further information on the commercial development resulting from this research, please see 

Howard professor featured in Ophthalmology Times Europe

The November 2020 edition of Ophthalmology Times Europe includes an overview of the work of Profession John Nolan, the Howard Foundation Chair in Human Nutrition Research at the Waterford Institute of Technology.

Professor Nolan has been conducting research into macular pigments for 20 years and has been the Howard Chair since 2016. He began collaboration with Dr Alan Howard in 2009. Alongside his research, he has guided a number of clinical trials to show the benefit of oral supplements to contrast sensitivity and to reducing age-related macular degeneration. His current research is directed towards the treatment and prevention of dementia and cognitive function, particularly for people with Alzheimers disease.

Click here to read the full article on the Ophthalmology Times Europe website.

Front cover of the Opthalmology Times Europe Nov 2020

New research into eye health

A study by the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), sponsored by the Howard Foundation together with IOSA and WIT, has identified a new formulation that can greatly increase the efficacy of nutritional supplements that are increasingly recognised for their value to eye health. 

The study was led by Dr Marina Green-Gomez and supervised by Professor John Nolan, the Howard Chair in Human Nutrition at WIT.

Titled COAST (Carotenoid-Omega Availability STudy), the research compared bioavailability of key carotenoids when they were taken as microcrystals suspended in sunflower or omega-3 oil with a new method of delivery. In the innovative Micro-Micelle formulation, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin travelled more efficiently into the bloodstream, increasing the bioavailability and impact of these carotenoids. 

The results of the study have been published in Swiss-based, peer-reviewed, open access journal Antioxidants: The Impact of Formulation on Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and meso-Zeaxanthin Bioavailability: A Randomised Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study.

The new formulation is being commercialised in the U.S. by MacuHealth and in Europe by MacuPrime.

Donations and Tributes

There has been £1,500 raised towards the provision of domestic facilities at the Parish Church of St Mary and St Michael in Trumpington, Cambridge where Dr Howard is buried.

The BBC Radio 4 programme Last Word included a segment on Dr Howard in their broadcasts on 24th and 26th July. Click here to listen. The segment on Dr Howard begins at 21 minutes 45 seconds.

Professor John Nolan and his team at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland have put together a visual tribute including people associated with Dr Howard in the last decade of his life. The song is The Parting Glass sung by the Irish musician Hozier.

Dr Howard Obituaries and Donations

The Howard Family thank all who have made donations in memory of Dr Alan Howard. The Just Giving page will remain open until the end of this week (24th July). Use this link to make a donation.

The video of the service will remain available at least until the end of 2020. It may be viewed using this link.

There have been three obituaries published so far. They may be read online using the following links:

The Norwich-based Evening News

The Cambridge News

The Times