Commenting on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (NCCAM) strategic plan, Douglas MacKay, ND, vice president, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C., said CRN supports NCCAM’s proposal to apply greater focus and research on specific areas where dietary supplements show promise in addressing important public health needs. “In the context of limited resources, it is imperative that NCCAM increases support for basic science and mechanistic studies of dietary supplements to better inform the design of clinical efficacy studies,” he said.
He also said the CAM research community would benefit from the development and validation of biomarkers. “Large clinical efficacy studies are extremely expensive and should not be initiated without insight to biological effect and the potential to measure biological effect via biomarkers, or surrogate markers relevant to the hypothesis. To the extent that resources allow, NCCAM should explore supporting the identification and validation of biomarkers and surrogate end points of disease. Consumers report one of their primary reasons for using CAM therapies, including dietary supplements, is to maintain and promote health; yet no validated biomarkers of health or wellness exist to allow for the evaluation of the intended effect on consumers. Validated biomarkers of health and wellness would help address a significant challenge faced by CAM researchers and strengthen the research capacity for the entire CAM research community.”