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Nutrients, VEGF, and a Call to Action

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy race has new contenders and this race may eventually prove to be as exciting as the Tour de France, particularly for those affected by the growing epidemic of wet macular degeneration.

The expensive pharmaceutical based anti-angiogenic therapies, like Macugen, marketed by Pfizer, and Lucentis, marketed by Novartis, may eventually race eye to eye with relatively inexpensive nutrients that are now suggested to inhibit activation of genes that stimulate VEGF, thus preventing wet macular degeneration instead of treating it after the fact.

As far back as the year 2000, the science journal Nature published a study suggesting that our VEGF genes are switched on when they are deprived of specific antioxidant nutrients. VEGF stimulates the elongation, network formation, and branching of endothelial cells. This leads to what we used to call neovascularization (now referred to as angiogenesis), the process by which new blood vessels develop to carry nutrients to nutrient deficient retinas and tumors. When these new blood vessels are formed to feed the retina they tend to be fragile and can easily leak, causing wet macula degeneration and vision loss.

Unfortunately, funding for university-based targeted nutrient studies has all but completely dried up in this country. This fact should enrage every American citizen, given disease prevention possibilities and the affordable cost of successful nutritional therapies vs. the high cost and the potential horrendous side effects of most pharmaceutical drugs. Some of the side effects listed in the literature of the FDA approved anti-angiogenesis pharmaceuticals being injected into the retinas of wet macular degeneration patients include: conjunctival hemorrhage, eye pain, vitreous floaters, increased intraocular pressure and intraocular inflammation, as well as possible retinal detachments. There are virtually no negative side effects associated with nutritional therapies that have generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status.

Fortunately for all of us, universities in other countries are not as controlled by the pharmaceutical industry and they continue to participate in nutrition studies. A flavonoid and Vitamin E VEGF study out of the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Kiel in Germany was published in the June 2006 Journal of Nutrition. A study funded by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in Chennai, India looked at the effect of supplemental curcumin on proliferation of human retinal endothelial cells and VEGF. It was published in the May 2006 ARVO journal, IOVS. The exciting study below was completed in Spain and the poster was accepted and presented at the summer ARVO research meeting in Fort Myers, FL last week. Look for this complete zeaxanthin/VEGF study to be published later this year.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA - Biosyntrx Chief Research Officer
Spencer Thornton, MD - Biosyntrx President.


The zeaxanthin poster information and many other peer-reviewed studies could prove to be particularly important for low cost prevention of blindness, or severe loss of vision, from both diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.


Clinical references available in the Biosyntrx office.