With great sadness, Holistic Primary Care reports the death of Mike Katke, a true visionary in the field of natural healthcare, holistic medicine, and nutritional product development.
On the evening of August 12, 2015, Mike was killed in a highway accident on US 36 near Boulder, CO, when his motorcycle struck a jeep making a sudden turn. He was 65 years old.
Mike co-founded Metagenics in 1983, with his brothers Jeff, Tim, and Chris, along with family friend Lyra Heller. In the process, he helped to define the core concepts as well as the practical tools for nutrigenomics and nutrition-based medicine.
In the 30 years since, Metagenics evolved to become a leading practitioner-only dietary supplement company, and one of the first to commit significant resources to original nutraceutical research. Always ahead of his time, Mike spearheaded Metagenics’ “FirstLine Therapy” program, an innovative system for integrating personalized, lifestyle-focused medicine into routine clinical practice.
Several years after Metagenics was acquired by Alticor, Mike re-entered the nutrition industry as Vice President of Marketing at Designs for Health, a position he held at the time of his death and one to which he was greatly devoted.
Thoughtful, energetic and kind-hearted, Mike translated his passion for health and for helping others into a legacy of products, services and educational programs that have had—and will conitine to have—tremendous impact on the practice of holistic and functional medicine. He was dedicated to freely sharing knowledge about health and nutrition, and was an early champion of Holistic Primary Care, and of other publishers committed to practitioner education.
Speaking at our first Practitioner Channel Forum in 2013, Mike summed up his approach to developing and marketing nutritional products to clinicians:
“Have respect for practitioners’ time and for their knowledge. Be honest and don’t BS them. Deliver on the promise. If you say you’re going to do some thing, then do it. Have good communication, and provide real benefit with each contact.”
We are grateful that we had the opportunity to know this fine man, and we extend condolences to his family and his many friends and colleagues.
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First there was categorical dismissal: Gluten allergies are “psychosomatic,” leaky gut syndrome is a made-up diagnosis, and celiac disease is a rare condition you might encounter once or twice in your medical career.
Then, begrudging acknowledgment: Mayo Clinic researchers note that nearly 2 million Americans—and 1% of the Caucasian population-- likely have celiac disease.
And now, the latest phase in mainstream medicine’s long, strange relationship with gluten-triggered disorders: a big pharma gold rush.
Indeed, drug developers have finally caught on to what food marketers recognized 15 years ago: there’s a huge number of people whose chronic digestive problems are –or could be—related to gluten sensitivities, and who are desperate for meaningful solutions
According to a recent New York Times article, several pharma companies are scrambling to be first to market with a drug solution to the celiac equation. All are still in early-stage development, and no actual drugs are expected to emerge until 2018 at best.
Alvine Pharmaceuticals, a small, privately-held drug company based in San Carlos, CA, has been working on a formula known as ALV003 that contains two enzymes that—at least in principle—break down gluten into non-allergenic fractions before it ever reaches the intestines.
AbbVie, a Chicago-based pharma development company with revenues of $18.8 billion in 2013, recently paid $70 million to Alvine for an option on the global rights to ALV003.
Alba Therapeutics, a Baltimore company, has been working on a drug called larazotide acetate that blocks gluten from slipping through the tight junctions between epithelial. In other worlds, it purports to treat one of the key features of that once-imaginary leaky-gut syndrome. Alba was recently acquired by global drug giant, Teva Pharmaceuticals.
The FDA has clearly taken note of the gluten-drug bonanza. Late in March the agency held a day-long workshop entitled Gastroenterology Regulatory Endpoints & the Advancement of Therapeutics (GREAT), focused on scientific issues around establishing and measuring meaningful endpoints in celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and oth related conditions.
Ain’t it funny how a condition can go from “imaginary” and “psychosomatic” to significant and worthy of serious investment, as soon as someone sees a large and lucrative market?
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