November 4, 2011
By Mary Brophy Marcus
In a study published online Nov. 2 in Nature, Mayo Clinic scientists came up with a way to eliminate so-called “senescent” cells — aging cells that stop functioning properly but still stick around the body, damaging healthy tissues, explained study author Dr. Jan van Deursen, a professor of pediatrics, molecular biology and biochemistry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“This research has identified a cell class that makes you old and makes you have age-related declines. We can now start to think about how you can get rid of them,” he said.
According to van Deursen, “how organisms and people age is not really well understood, particularly not at a cell and molecular level. There are many theories about how we age and one of the theories that we investigated was that as we age, senescent cells start to accumulate and produce and secrete proteins and other factors that basically make the healthy neighboring cells that surround them less functional.”
After “deleting” senescent cells in mice genetically engineered to age quickly, tissues remained healthier and performed better, van Deursen’s team found.
Senescent cells are limited in number, making only up to 15 percent of cells in an elderly person, for example. To eliminate them in the mice, the researchers focused a tracer on a protein called p16, explained co-author Dr. James Kirkland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.
P16 stops cells from dividing and can trigger a series of steps that causes cellular senescence, Kirkland said.
“In healthy young cells the p16 gene is not expressed,” van Deursen added. “Later on, as we age, it becomes higher in our tissues.”
The scientists used p16 to activate a type of “suicide gene” within senescent cells. The protein made by this gene will kill senescent cells (without harming other normal cells) after a drug specifically designed to activate it is administered, said van Deursen.
Two sets of prematurely aged mice were involved. In one set, the researchers cleared senescent cells for the whole 15 months of the mice’s typical lifespan. In another set of mice, they waited until age-related problems were well underway and then cleared the senescent cells away for a few months, said Kirkland.
The result: Lifelong destruction of a mouse’s senescent cells kept age-related problems at bay, including cataracts and loss of muscle mass and strength. But the study also suggested that removing senescent cells later in life could slow down these age-related health problems.
What’s more, said Kirkland, improved behavior was noted — the activity level of the mice was considerably higher.
Still, the research is early and has not yet moved into experiments in humans. “It’s a proof of principle study. Now we know we can safely remove these cells in an animal model without causing any detectable harm,” said van Deursen.
Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and an expert in aging, said the work was exciting.
August 9th, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Two new studies have added more reason for concern that high-fructose corn syrup causes significantly more harm to the body than its mere sugar content would suggest.
High-fructose corn syrup contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. In contrast, table sugar (also known as sucrose) contains a 50-50 split.
In the first study, published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, researchers from Princeton University found that rats consuming high fructose corn syrup gained more weight and developed more cardiovascular risk factors than rats consuming equivalent amounts of sucrose.
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, ” researcher Bart Hoebel said.
Hoebel and colleagues fed two groups of rats an identical diet, supplemented with one of two sweetened beverages. One beverage consisted of a sucrose solution in concentrations similar to those found in many sweetened beverages. The other consisted of a high-fructose corn syrup solution at roughly half the concentration of a typical soda. The researchers found that the rats consuming the corn syrup solution gained significantly more weight than the rats consuming the sucrose solution.
In a followup experiment, the researchers compared metabolic changes in rats fed only rat chow with rats fed chow plus a high-fructose corn syrup solution. All the rats consumed the same amount of calories.
After six months, the rats in the corn syrup group had gained 48 percent more weight. They also underwent an increase in fat deposition (especially in the abdomen) and a drop in circulating triglycerides. These changes are consistent with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that predispose humans to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Every rat consuming high-fructose corn syrup became obese. In contrast, rats fed a high-fat diet did not become obese in all cases.
Another study, conducted by Duke University researchers, once again implicates high-fructose corn syrup in a heightened risk of liver damage.
Previous research has suggested that large amounts of fructose liver in the same way as excessive alcohol consumption. Another study linked high-fructose corn syrup specifically with a form of liver scarring known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The new study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, found that high-fructose corn syrup worsened the effects of NAFLD.
“We found that increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup was associated with scarring in the liver … among patients with NAFLD,” researcher Manal Abdelmalek said.
The researchers analyzed the diets and livers of 427 adults with NAFLD, and found that only 19 percent of them never consumed fructose-containing beverages. In contrast, 52 percent of participants had between one and six servings of a fructose-containing beverage per week, while another 29 percent had at least one serving per day. The higher patients’ fructose intake, the worse the scarring of their livers.
“We have identified an environmental risk factor that may contribute to the metabolic syndrome of insulin resistance and the complications of the metabolic syndrome, including liver injury,” Abdelmalek said.
Abdelmalek noted that NAFLD is a severe problem that cannot be treated and may lead in some cases to liver cancer, liver failure and a need for liver transplant.
Researchers are still unsure why high-fructose corn syrup appears to damage the body more than its extra 5 percent fructose content would suggest. Some have hypothesized that the negative effects come from the massive quantities in which it is consumed — high-fructose corn syrup is found in nearly all processed foods.
Other researchers have observed that beverages made with high-fructose corn syrup contain high levels of reactive carbonyls, which can damage cells. Still others have noted that the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup is chemically unbonded and thus spreads through the body more freely than the fructose in table sugar.
February 1, 2010
By Mike Adams
This article continues our 15-part article series called Heal Yourself in 15 Days. In part one, we looked at why the real secret to rapid healing is to remove the barriers to healing. In part two, we look at why your healing potential is so powerful that you can’t even turn it off!
When you scrape your elbow, a bit of blood oozes out to clean the wound and wash away bacteria. It then forms a protective scab that keeps out invading microorganisms while your skin has a chance to heal underneath. There, some real magic takes place: Your skin cells innately recognize the need to divide and grow to fill the wound. A cancer-like process is unleashed at the cellular level, activating nearby cells to divide and grow. Your DNA is replicated in the nucleus of each cell with the help of some of the most astounding nanotechnology every witnessed in human civilization. (The best scientists in the world can’t even come close to recreating it.)
As your cells multiply, nutrients and building blocks are carried to them through a blood supply that adapts to the particular size and shape of the wound. If a blood vessel was destroyed in your accident, the growth of new blood vessels is spontaneously initiated to take their place, and they grow into the tissues within mere hours.
As your skin cells fill in the previous wound, the replication effort is delicately turned off, one by one, so that replicating skin cells don’t keep replicating beyond what they need to — a process that would cause the creation of a skin tumor. Your body’s cells know exactly when to grow and exactly when to turn off, and when it’s all said and done, you’re left with a perfect replacement for the skin you previously lost.
Completely automatic healing
The truly amazing part of all this is not the cancer-like processes that are delicately controlled by your body wisdom; it’s not even the fact that your body has the ability to re-grow lost cells — it’s the fact that all this takes place without any conscious involvement on your part.
Healing yourself is automatic, in other words. You don’t have to direct blood to the wound, direct the cells to start replicating, direct the molecular waste products to be carried away and decide when cell replication should be stopped. All this happens without your involvement — even without your awareness! Much of it happens while you sleep, in fact. While your conscious mind is dreaming, your innate body wisdom is working the biochemistry and energetic transformations necessary to repair your tissues.
You can’t stop this process even if you wanted to. You could try to focus all your mental power on your skin not healing, and yet your skin would heal itself anyway.
That’s because your body is a powerful self-healing organism. It heals itself automatically, innately, without your conscious awareness or involvement. Your ability to heal yourself is so powerful that you can’t stop yourself from healing!
Why we don’t always heal
If this is true, then why aren’t you healing everything else? Why aren’t you always in perfect health? The answer, as you’ve seen throughout this article series, is because we tend to erect barriers to our own healing. And we often misread the symptoms of sickness that are asking for help, “treating” them in a way that makes the situation worse.