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
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.
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.