The new paper was published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. It is the work of current and former officials and associates of GOED (Global Organization of EPA and DHA Omega-3s).
The new database called the GOED Clinical Study Database (CSD), was previewed for GOED members at a meeting earlier this year in Anaheim, CA. The publication of the paper now validates in a peer-reviewed way the approach the authors took in assembling the database, which brings together information from the more than 45,000 published research papers on omega-3s.
Three-tiered data validation
The new compendium of omega-3 research was put together in a three-tired fashion, the first of which consisted of an automated literature search. The latter two required a human hand in the form of research assistants engaged by—but not affiliated with—GOED, which paid for the study.
The first of these human-directed stages consisted of a screening to determine if the article is really about the effects of EPA and/or DHA, what precise kind of study it was, and what kind of results (positive, negative or null) the authors found.
In the third and final stage, the interventional articles in human subjects for which at least one of the interventions included EPA/DHA underwent detailed data extraction. Data from more than 4,600 papers made the final cut for inclusion in the CSD.
The result is a research tool, which will be consistently updated as new research comes out, that can be used to improve study design, optimize subject populations for future research and, above all, identify gaps in the current body of research. The database can also help companies gather Information for scientific outreach and substantiate marketing messaging and regulatory claims.
Graphical interface increases usefulness
It is presented in the form of a graphical user interface that will make it easier to use, the authors said. Results pertaining to specific search terms, such as ‘myocardial infarction,’ can be broken down in more granular fashion, increasing the specificity of the results.
For example, a raw search on the PubMed database with the search term ‘omega-3s and myocardial infarction’ brings up 793 results. A researcher interested in that topic would then have to do a further deep dive into those results to gauge their usefulness to their individual research plan. But the new GOED data base breaks down the results into subsets, such as ‘myocardial infarction, history of,’ ‘myocardial infarction, years since’ and ‘anterior wall myocardial infarction,’ among other subsets.
“We believe that having a peer-reviewed publication detailing the CSD methodology improves the credibility of the database,” said Aldo Bernasconi, PhD, vice president of data science for GOED and lead developer of the Clinical Study Database. “We hope that by validating and describing our data extraction and processing methods, scientists will be more inclined to trust the tool and employ it as part of their research-gathering.”
Expert: CSD marks watershed moment in research
William S Harris, PhD, longtime omega-3s researcher and head of the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI), said the new database marks a watershed moment in the research of these essential fatty acids.
“First, the DSC is the first fully comprehensive database dedicated to the health effects of a specific nutrient – EPA and DHA. This is a major contribution to omega-3 research because it puts within easy reach a fantastic resource to enable future studies on the health effects of EPA and DHA. You can’t always trust a simple PubMed search to find relevant papers as you begin a new research program – which always begins with a literature search. This is because in cataloging papers, PubMed uses only keywords chosen by authors and then sorted by computers. Sometimes this process misses the mark and improperly includes – or excludes – relevant papers,” Harris said.
“Interestingly, it was produced, not by any given university research team but by the omega-3 trade association. This is not something that trade organizations have to do – but GOED, to its credit, took the time and spent the money to create this, not only for its members but also for the omega-3 research community world-wide. It’s a real gift. We at FARI will no doubt make a visit to the GOED CSD an essential first stop as we continue to explore the seemingly endless story on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on human health,” he added.
Source: Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Development of a novel database to review and assess the clinical effects of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids
Authors: Bernasconi AA, Wilkin AM, Roke K, Ismail A