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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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December 9, 2012: by Bill Sardi
Stem cell technology continues to fascinate researchers and technology-driven males. Anything that is even alleged to facilitate stem cells becomes wildly popular overnight. Stem cells, if you recall, are those native unspecialized cells that can turn into heart, brain, muscle and nerve cells. Stem cells are required for tissue repair. They have great application for renewal of brain, eye and heart cells that have a very slow cell turnover rate (replace themselves only every few years!). Once damaged, these are the most difficult tissues to repair.
Matt Ridley, Wall Street Journal writer, says from the top of his recent article on this subject that “the chief medical ambition of those who study stem cells has always been that the cells would be used to repair and regenerate damaged tissue.” Well, yes, but the added requirement that any developed stem cell technology would reap a huge profit for its inventors. Of course, that might run in the wrong direction of healthcare reform, which is to find new ways to treat patients at less cost.
Journalist Ridley says use of stem cell technology is “still a long way off.”
Ridley goes on to say there is an application for stem cell technology that is already yielding results: disease modeling. Researchers create conditions similar to a disease state and then put certain compounds to the test, in this case, see which molecules induce genes to produce new stem cells.
One of the new directions is to use red blood cells rather than skin cells to glean new stem cells via activation of a gene. Ridley says this is an example of breakthroughs that “are coming thick and fast.” A primary lesson derived from this research is that embryonic stem cells may not be needed as they can be obtained from the patient without induction of autoimmune problems (rejection).
Throughout Mr. Ridley’s report he repeatedly refers to a Nobel Prize that will soon be awarded to Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University who first demonstrated the ability to use a patient’s own cells to glean stem cells.
OK, this is Nobel Prize-winning stuff.
What Wall Street Journal writers fantasize over is technology that is going to make investors rich. But what if there is a more economical off-the-shelf way to do this? Wall Street wouldn’t ignore it, would it?
Even a lazy investigator would not find it difficult to locate a recent report concerning resveratrol, known as a red wine molecule, and its ability to reduce progenitor cell dysfunction. Progenitor cells are close descendants of stem cells.
Researchers in Italy created a disease model of human diabetic cardiomyopathy using laboratory rats. Diabetic cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle problem related to elevated blood sugar levels among diabetics. High blood sugar levels lead to senescence (inability to replicate or renew) in heart progenitor cells. A decrease in new blood vessels (angiogenesis), required to aid in heart tissue repair, is characteristic of this disease. Eventually the heart loses ability to repair itself in this disease.
The researchers involved in this investigation point to “reactive oxygen species” (oxidation, or oxygen free radicals) that inhibit progenitor cell survival. A search for a potent antioxidant that would be strong enough to quell loss of progenitor cells identified resveratrol as a candidate molecule to quell this disease.
Indeed administration of resveratrol to these laboratory animals succeeded in preserving the numbers and function of progenitor cells in diabetic heart muscle, leading to a “marked recovery of function,” said the investigators. A modest dose of resveratrol was employed, equivalent to 175 milligrams in a human. Resveratrol treatment did not significantly reduce blood sugar levels or body weight.
But resveratrol remarkably abolished a decline in pumping pressure in the pumping side of the heart among these animals with high blood sugar. And resveratrol reversed loss of muscle mass in the heart tissue. Scarring of heart muscle (fibrosis) was limited in the resveratrol-treated animals.
Researchers said, “In comparison with conventional antioxidant compounds, resveratrol holds great promise in the treatment of cardiovascular complications of diabetes,” particularly because it has been shown “to enhance stem cell survival and cardiac regeneration in the oxygen-deprived heart.” The researchers concluded that: “resveratrol led to an almost complete recovery of global ventricular (blood pumping) dynamics and partial restoration of cardiomyocyte (heart muscle) function at cellular level.”
Wow, why isn’t a human investigation underway? A recent study showed that among diabetics with no previously diagnosed heart disease, a whopping 48% had cardiomyopathy. The need for a treatment like resveratrol is huge.
It has been nearly 40 years since a cardiologist first described heart failure among diabetic subjects who had normal coronary arteries. Drug therapy does not address the free radical damage to the heart disease in this disease and is therefore of marginal benefit. Diabetic cardiomyopathy is generally considered irreversible. In 2010 there were 21.1 million Americans with diagnosed diabetes, and an estimated half of them have diabetic cardiomyopathy.
Modern medicine’s dictate is that patient’s had better be satisfied with what it offers them and if researchers and doctors aren’t cut into handsome profits, they aren’t going to cure the disease. This suggests modern medicine has become a medical mafia. You pay for protection, or else you die. Is there any other conclusion to draw from what has been revealed here? Diabetics do have access to information via the internet. But patients are also likely to consult with their doctors over whether resveratrol would be appropriate for them. Doctors simply dismiss resveratrol as unproven. But they won’t put this miracle molecule to a test.
There is a study involving nutrition therapy for diabetic cardiomyopathy that started almost 3-years ago, but it is unknown if resveratrol is part of that study.
There is evidence that even lower doses can produce more protective effects when resveratrol is combined with other small molecules. The field is ripe for human trials, but it is not likely doctors are going to embrace a dietary supplement anytime soon. Needless loss of life will be the price diabetics pay for this self-interested misdirection by modern medicine.
Copyright 2012 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com