STOCKHOLM (AP) — Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries on how cells break down and recycle content, a garbage disposal system that scientists hope to harness in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
The Karolinska Institute honored Ohsumi for “brilliant experiments” in the 1990s on autophagy, a phenomenon that literally means “self-eating” and describes how cells gobble up damaged content and provide building blocks for renewal.
Disrupted autophagy (aw-TAH’-fuh-jee) has been linked to several diseases including Parkinson’s, diabetes and cancer, the prize committee said.
“Intense research is now ongoing to develop drugs that can target autophagy in various diseases,” it said in itscitation .
Ohsumi, 71, from Fukuoka, Japan, is a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In 2012, he won the Kyoto Prize, Japan’s highest private award for global achievement.
Ohsumi said he never thought he would win a Nobel Prize for his work, which he said involved studying yeast in a microscope day after day for decades.
“As a boy, the Nobel Prize was a dream, but after starting my research, it was out of my picture,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
“I don’t feel comfortable competing with many people, and instead I find it more enjoyable doing something nobody else is doing,” Ohsumi added. “In a way, that’s what science is all about, and the joy of finding something inspires me.”
Nobel committee secretary Thomas Perlmann said Ohsumi seemed surprised when he was informed he had won theNobel Prize.
“The first thing he said was ‘ahhh.’ He was very, very pleased,” Perlmann said.
Nobel judges often award discoveries made decades ago, to make sure they have stood the test of time.
Though scientists have known that autophagy exists for more than 50 years, its fundamental significance was only recognized after Ohsumi’s “paradigm-shifting research” on yeast in the 1990s, the committee said.
“Thanks to Ohsumi and others following in his footsteps, we now know that autophagy controls important physiological functions where cellular components need to be degraded and recycled,” it said.
The term autophagy was coined in 1963 by Belgian scientist Christian de Duve, who shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries on cell structure and organization.
But before Ohsumi’s research, scientists “didn’t know what it did, they didn’t know how it was controlled and they didn’t know what it was relevant for,” said David Rubinsztein, deputy director of the Institute for Medical Research at the University of Cambridge.
Now “we know that autophagy is important for a host of important mammalian functions.” For example, it protects against starvation in the period when a newborn animal hasn’t yet started breastfeeding, by providing energy, he said.
It also removes proteins that clump together abnormally in brain cells, which is important in conditions like Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases and some forms of dementia. If autophagy didn’t do that job, “the diseases would appear more early and be more aggressive,” he said.
Animal studies suggest that boosting autophagy can ease and delay such diseases, said Rubinsztein, whose lab is pursuing that approach for therapy.
“As time goes on, people are finding connections with more and more diseases” and normal cellular operations, he said.
In 1993 Ohsumi published his “seminal discovery” of 15 genes crucial to autophagy, and cloned several of those genes in yeast and mammalian cells in subsequent studies, the Nobel committee said.
“He actually unraveled which are the components which actually perform this whole process,” said Rune Toftgard, chairman of the Nobel Assembly. “Having those components at hand were also important tools to … do functional experiments to understand how important it was for different types of processes in the body.”
In Tokyo, Ohsumi said many details of autophagy are yet to be understood and that he hoped younger scientists would join him in looking for the answers.
“There is no finish line for science. When I find an answer to one question, another question comes up. I have never thought I have solved all the questions,” he said. “So I have to keep asking questions to yeast.”
It was the 107th award in the medicine category since the first Nobel Prizes were handed out in 1905.
Last year’s prize was shared by three scientists who developed treatments for malaria and other tropical diseases.
The announcements continue with physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The economics and literature awards will be announced next week.
Each prize is worth 8 million kronor ($930,000). The awards will be handed out at prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.
Even the best-man made machines eventually break down. And the human body, made up of millions of tiny machine-like cells, is no different. Over the years, cells gradually wear from the grueling work of keeping you alive. To restore themselves, they devour their own broken parts. This morning, cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for identifying the genes and underlying mechanisms that keep our cells in tip-top shape.
The cellular process known as “autophagy” (Greek for “self-eating”) has been known since the 1960s. As far as biological processes go, it’s one of the most important ones. Without being able to tear apart old, broken-down cells for parts, we would age much faster and be more vulnerable to diseases like cancer caused by error-riddled cells running amok.
In the 1950s, scientists discovered that cells of plants and animals are packed with tiny structures called organelles, which are responsible for cellular functions such as generating energy. Researchers noticed, however, that one of these organelles also contained bits and pieces of proteins and structures from the cell itself, “like a garbage dump,” write Gina Kolata and Sewell Chan for the New York Times. This trash pile, dubbed the “lysosome,” cannibalizes worn out parts of the cell for the raw materials to build anew, according to the Nobel Assembly at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet.
Before Ohsumi’s work, however, cellular biologists didn’t have a firm understanding of the inner workings of this process. Scientists knew that cells built little sacs around worn-out proteins and organelles for transport to the lysosome. But beyond this basic process, the cellular recycling remained a mystery, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Anna Fifield report for The Washington Post. By studying the inner workings of small, simple yeast cells, Ohsumi was able to identify the genes that make autophagy possible, how cells determine which parts need replacing and what happens when things go wrong.
“Looking into bodily processes, I found that we have an ongoing renewal process without which living organisms can’t survive,” Ohsumi tells the Japanese broadcaster NHK. “This recycling process did not receive as much attention as it deserved, but I discovered that we should be paying more attention to this autophagy process.”
Ohsumi’s discoveries shed new light on some of the most important processes our cells use to stay healthy. By understanding how autophagy works, scientists hope to better understand the role it plays in aging and disease. Yet despite his accomplishments, Ohsumi remains humble, calling himself “just a basic researcher in yeast,” in an interview with the Canadian newspaper TThe Globe and Mail last year after he received the Canada Gairdner International Award. Perhaps—but some yeast researchers clearly rise to the top more than others.
Australia up there with the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, Global Burden of Disease Study ShowsSeptember 26th, 2016
The USA can keep its hoard of Olympic medals. Australia has thrashed the superpower in a far more significant world ranking.
Australia is among the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, according to the most comprehensive analysis of burden of disease and living standards to date.
A suite of perfect scores buoyed Australia’s performance, including top marks for indicators associated with war, malnutrition, water access, sanitation and malaria.
But its result was dragged down by lower scores for suicide, alcohol, smoking, overweight, HIV, violence and disaster (defined as the death rate due to exposure to forces of nature per 100,000 population).
The US’s comparatively poor performance will come as a surprise to many, considering its socio-economic heft, wrote the research coalition of more than 1870 international researchers who analysed the performance of countries between 1990 and 2015.
The superpower’s lacklustre scores for maternal mortality alcohol consumption, childhood overweight, and deaths due to interpersonal violence, self-harm, and unintentional poisoning compared to other higher income countries dragged down its overall ranking.
East Timor was the biggest success story, winning the title of most improved and rocketing up the rankings to 122nd place.
Dead last was the Central African Republic, with a total SDG index score of 20. War-torn Afghanistan came in 180th place, and Syria fell to 117th, still scoring better than Russia in 119th place. China came was 92nd, and Papua New Guinea 155th.
Overall, the most pronounced progress internationally was among the universal health coverage indicators, largely thanks to anti-retroviral therapies and widespread use of insecticide-treated nets in malaria-endemic countries since the early 2000s.
And while there were also substantial improvements in childhood stunting caused by malnutrition, childhood overweight rates had worsened considerably over the past 15 years.
“Our analysis not only highlights the importance of income, education, and fertility as drivers of health improvement but also emphasises that investments in these areas alone will not be sufficient,” the researchers said.
The SDG targets have been a source of intense debate, with critics arguing they were too vague, unrealistic, poorly measured, or missing key indicators – for instance, banning forced labour or mental health improvements.
The SDG agenda replaced the Millenium Development Goal framework, which expired in 2015.
The scores routinely inform decisions concerning which countries may be most deserving of aid funding, as well as national and international policy and strategies.
“The difficulties of measurement are also further compounded by persistent problems of data availability, quality and comparability across a host of indicators” as the researchers work to pull together a daunting tangle of national data sets, survey results and pharmaceutical records.
|Health issue||Score /100|
|Neglected tropical disease||100|
|Household air pollution||100|
|Skilled birth attendance||100|
The latest analysis was a step towards a more cohesive approach to understanding the interaction between SDGs, targets and indicators by comparing the relationship between education, income and fertility, the authors said.
It also raised questions about the impact of other drivers on health and living standards across the globe.
The authors urged governments, donors, and global development institutions to use the results to “enhance accountability through open and transparent review and action”.
VICTORIA Gordon holds in her hands the chance at life that she had to deny her cancer-stricken sister: a potential breakthrough drug that “eats” tumours.
Dr Gordon and her husband, fellow scientist Paul Reddell, discovered the compound in a north Queensland rainforest and have spent nearly a decade developing the drug and demonstrating its effectiveness in animals.
Hundreds of horses, dogs, cats, even a Tasmanian devil had life-threatening tumours reduced to harmless sludge by the experimental drug, EBC-46, produced from the seed of the common blushwood tree.
Now, at last, it is to be tested on people battling advanced melanoma and notoriously difficult to treat head and neck cancers. Clinical trials are set to get under way in a number of hospitals by September.
Dr Gordon and Dr Reddell realised something special was happening when they saw hungry rat kangaroos spit out fallen berries from the blushwood tree, which grows only in the tropical rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns.
The chemical responsible for this “feeding deterrent’’ turned out to be EBC-46, propelling Dr Gordon to her moment of truth with her dying sister, Cheryl.
The 61-year-old chef begged Dr Gordon to toss away the rule book and let her have the experimental drug before she succumbed last December to liver cancer. “I couldn’t,’’ a tearful Dr Gordon says, for the first time telling her story of scientific discovery and its anguished denouement with her older sister.
“Basically, the question Cheryl asked was, ‘Do you believe EBC-46 could help me, and can I have the drug?’ Factually, I said to her we were unsure of the role EBC-46 would play in liver cancer and, even so, this is a drug that has not yet been approved for human use. And, as such, no, she could not use the drug. I just had to be … cold and clinical with that. It was heartbreaking.’’
Dr Gordon and Dr Reddell have been reluctant to speak in detail about EBC-46 until now, with the clinical phase I/II human trial in sight. If all goes to plan, the program will begin within months with about 30 cancer patients, all of them “at the end of the line’’ with conventional treatments.
Turning down her sister was the hardest thing Dr Gordon has had to do. “We are asked almost on a daily basis for access to this drug,’’ she says. “I am sincere when I say this … as much as I would dearly love to help those in need, it’s simply not an option. The regulators and the rules are there to protect patients. Yes, we have very good results in the animals. But if we have not proven this drug is a safe drug to use in people, there is no way we should be making it available.’’
>>>>More CLINICAL information please read this original research work.
Atherton vet Justine Campbell, one of the first to treat pets with the drug, said she was approached by a client who had terminal melanoma. “He was desperate,’’ she said. “He had heard about EBC-46 and asked, ‘Can you treat me?’ And I had to say to him, to his face, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t.’ It’s just awful.’’
Years of research into the drug’s effectiveness in animals have been submitted for publication in an international scientific journal by Dr Gordon, Dr Reddell and scientists from Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.
The head of the institute’s Cancer Drug Mechanism Group, Glen Boyle, said the drug broke down tumours within hours of being injected into them. Human melanoma grown on the skin of laboratory mice began to swell by the time the animals were returned to their cage, a sign the powerful response triggered by the drug was choking off the tumour’s blood supply. Minutes later, the growth was a bruised purple, a sign the cancer cells were dying.
“A couple of days after that there is a scab where the tumour used to be,’’ said Dr Boyle, the lead author of research paper.
Veteran medical scientist Peter Parsons said fieldwork with cancer-struck animals outside the laboratory increased his confidence that the drug would work on most tumour types — and in people.
QBiotics, the company established by Dr Gordon and Dr Reddell, both 54, says the drug destroyed all traces of tumour or shrank them by more than half in 78 per cent of the 344 companion animals treated by vets, including Ms Campbell.
Dr Gordon insists “it’s time, we need to get this into people’’.
For her, the clock is ticking in a personal sense. In addition to losing her sister to cancer, both her parents and grandparents died of a disease that will kill more than 44,000 Australians this year. “I have already lost loved ones. I’m sure that more of my family will present with cancer, as my sister did. I wasn’t ready for her. So I have some incentive, real incentive, to get this drug through.’’
MY EARLIER BLUSHWOOD TREE POSTINGS >>
Brain expert Dr Jenny Brockis explains why we should do Sudoku and learn languages – and why the best thinking comes from a calm, rested brain.
We’ve been talking about the need for greater physical health for decades. We know how important healthy eating and exercise are – but until recently, better brain health hasn’t been included in the equation. The primary reason is that our understanding of the human brain is still very much in its infancy.
Fortunately we now have a wealth of neuroscientific information available to us at this critical time when the burden of multiple chronic medical conditions in a rapidly ageing population, along with spiralling levels of stress, anxiety and depression, desperately need sorting out.
There are a number of lifestyle elements that contribute to brain fitness: good food, exercise, enough sleep, mental challenge and stress management. If you have a healthy brain, you start to think better. It’s easier to stay focused, keep things in perspective, stay positive and be more mindful.
Brain fitness is crucial to health and wellbeing across the trajectory of our lifespan. That means if we teach our kids how to build healthier brains they will grow into brain healthy adults.
“Brain fitness is about continuing to learn new things that with practice we can get better at. Learning a new language, picking up a musical instrument or signing up for a photography class are all great ways to stretch your mental muscle.”
How to keep your brain strong
Healthy food is important for nourishing your brain, and regular exercise keeps your brain fit as well as your body. Along with these healthy habits, there are some strategies you can use to reduce the effects of stress and brain overload, and to keep your neural connections strong.
Here are some things to try:
1. Reduce stress
Look for ways to manage stress levels by practising relaxation and taking time out. Tai chi, yoga, pilates and meditation are perfect ways to de-stress your day.
2. Create some breathing space
We need time to think, to pause and reflect. So switch off from all that technology regularly and give your brain a break. A 15 minute session to still your mind is all it takes – turn off your phone, close the door and just be.
3. Stretch your mental muscle
Practise being a five-year-old. Be curious about the world, ask questions, explore and try out new activities, especially those you don’t think you will necessarily be any good at. The more effort we apply to our learning the stronger those new neural connections will be. Many of us carry limiting self-beliefs: “I’m no good at (insert here – art, maths, dancing, etc)”. But if you feel drawn to trying something, give it a go anyway – you might surprise yourself.
Brain fitness is about continuing to learn new things that with practice we can get better at. Learning a new language, picking up a musical instrument or signing up for a photography class are all great ways to stretch your mental muscle. And the best thing is, the more we use that muscle the stronger it gets.
4. Connect with people
Staying connected and engaged with our world has been shown to be vital to our health and wellbeing on both a physical and mental level. Joining a club or volunteering are two ways we can widen our group of contacts.
“Break up your work session into blocks of 25 to 90 minutes, and take regular brain breaks of 15 to 20 minutes in between.”
The brain in focus
Much of my work is centred around the “science of high performance thinking.” A high performance brain is a brain that is operating to its true capacity. It’s not about being the best – just your best. It’s about the idea that if we look after our brain, and use it in the way it was designed to operate, we get more done, at a higher level and with fewer mistakes. This leads us to feel less stressed and enjoy a greater sense of achievement and happiness.
Here are three things about brain performance that might surprise you:
1. Multitasking is the one brain function that gets worse with practice
We multitask because we think we can, we think we’re good at it and we think it will save us time and energy. Sadly, this is wrong on all levels.
The brain is designed to be able to focus on only one thing at a time. While we can divide our attention and undertake lots of activities simultaneously, only one can really have our full focus. Trying to multi task exhausts our brain, causes us to make more mistakes, reduces memory, and causes us to take longer to finish our work.
2. We’re not designed for long periods of focus
When we’re working, studying, or focusing on a big task, it’s tempting to think we should switch our brain into overdrive and keep going all day long. But like everything else, our brain needs regular breaks to allow our subconscious to consolidate our thoughts, prioritise what needs to be kept for long-term memory and reboot our mental energy levels.
So what should we do instead? Break up your work session into blocks of 25 to 90 minutes, and take regular brain breaks of 15 to 20 minutes in between.
3. Our best thinking comes from a rested brain
Getting enough good quality, uninterrupted sleep each night is essential for better brain health and function. Our brain is very active at night – doing important tasks like laying down long term memory, deepening our understanding of what we have learnt, as well as loosening up those synaptic connections no longer required. Understandably, it needs some solid quiet time to get this done.
We also need sleep for better mood and emotional regulation. We only have to deal with a cranky, sleep deprived two-year-old to know how true that is!
Plus, sleeping is the time we take out the brain’s trash. Our brain is highly metabolically active and builds up a considerable amount of waste each day. Sleep allows our brain to give itself a good flush each night, so we’re good to go next morning.
Ginger-derived nanoparticles have exhibited impressive therapeutic effects in mice
Ginger has a long and rich history when it comes to improving our wellbeing. Its medical use can be traced back thousands of years as a natural remedy for things like diarrhea and upset stomachs, but still today the thick, knotted root continues to reveal some hidden talents. Researchers have taken fresh ginger and converted it into a nanoparticle that exhibits real potential to treat these kinds of symptoms in one of their more chronic forms, inflammatory bowel disease, and might even help fight cancer, too.
The discovery was the result of a collaboration between researchers at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Georgia State University. Based on previous research highlighting the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant, the team set out to further explore the potential for ginger to treat conditions relating to the digestive tract.
The research began with a fresh ginger root purchased at a farmer’s market, which the team ground up in a typical kitchen blender. But the process was a little more complicated from that point, with the team using super-high-speed centrifugation and ultrasonic dispersion to break the ginger apart into tiny particles, each measuring around 230 nanometers across.
These particles were administered orally to lab mice, where they were drawn to the colon and soaked up by cells in the lining of the intestines. This is the region where inflammatory bowel disease occurs, and the researchers observed that the particles reduced both short-term and long-term inflammation, and even prevented cancer that arises as a result.
Furthermore, the researchers found that the ginger-derived nanoparticles, or GDNPs, improved intestinal repair by increasing the survival and spread of cells making up the colon lining. At the same time, they hampered the production of proteins that give rise to inflammation and boosted those that fight it.
The team believes that these therapeutic effects come from the high amounts of fatty molecules, or lipids, in the particles, which are a consequence of the natural lipids found in the ginger plant. One of these lipids is phosphatidic acid, which plays an important role in the construction of cell membranes, but the researchers say that their particles also retain other important ginger compounds called 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, which have been shown to fight oxidation, inflammation, and cancer.
The particles appeared to be non-toxic in the mice and the researchers say that in humans they may provide a more targeted treatment of the colon than simply delivering ginger as a herb or supplement. This more precise approach means it could be delivered in lower doses and therefore avoid unnecessary or unwanted side effects.
Among the challenges in turning these GDNPs into a drug, Didier Merlin, leader of the research team explains, is the need to pinpoint the precise mechanisms by which they produce these effects.
“To find the natural components that are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of GDNPs, this will be an important step to develop GDNPs into a drug,” he tells New Atlas.
The research was published in the journal Biomaterials.
They’re tiny, wireless, battery-less sensors no larger than a piece of sand. But in the future, these “neural dust” sensors could be used to power prosthetics, monitor organ health and track the progression of tumors.
A team of engineers and neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley have been working on the technology for half a decade. They’ve now managed to implant the sensors inside rats, where they monitor nerve and muscle impulses via ultrasound. Their research appears in the journal Neuron.
“There’s a lot of exciting things that this opens the door to,” says Michel Maharbiz, a professor of engineering and one of the study’s two main authors.
The neural dust sensors developed by Maharbiz and his co-author, neuroscientist Jose Carmena, consist of a piezoelectric crystal (that produces a voltage in response to physical pressure) connected to a simple electronic circuit, all mounted on a tiny polymer board. A change in the nerve or muscle fiber surrounding the sensor changes the vibrations of the crystal. These fluctuations, which can be captured by ultrasound, give researchers a sense of what might be going on deep within the body.
Building interfaces to record or stimulate the nervous system that will also last inside the body for decades has been a long-standing puzzle, Maharbiz says. Many implants degrade after a year or two. Some require wires that protrude from the skin. Others simply don’t work efficiently. Historically, scientists have used radio frequency to communicate with medical implants. This is fine for larger implants, says Maharbiz. But for tiny implants like the neural dust, radio waves are too large to work efficiently. So the team instead tried ultrasound, which turns out to work much better.
Moving forward, the team is experimenting with building neural dust sensors out of a variety of different materials safe for use in the human body. They’re also trying to make the sensors much smaller, small enough to actually fit inside nerves. So far, the sensors have been used in the peripheral nervous system and in muscles, but, if shrunken, they could potentially be implanted directly into the central nervous system or the brain.
Minor surgery was needed to get the sensors inside the rats. The team is currently working with microsurgeons to see what kinds of laparoscopic or endoscopic technologies might be best for implanting the devices in a minimally invasive way.
It may be years before the technology is ready for human testing, Maharbiz says. But down the road, the neural dust has potential to be used to power prosthetics via nerve impulses. A paralyzed person could theoretically control a computer or an amputee could power a robot hand using the sensors. The neural dust could also be used to track health data, such as oxygen levels, pH or the presence of certain chemical compounds, or to monitor organ function. In cancer patients, sensors implanted near tumors could monitor their growth on an ongoing basis.
“It’s a new frontier,” Maharbiz says. “There’s just an amazing amount you can do.”
The photos are heartbreaking and almost too difficult to look at, but Kayley Burke is begging other parents to take notice.
“Vaccinate your kids people. The pictures below show you exactly why,” the upset Queensland mother posted on Facebook alongside horrifying photos of 11-month-old son Elijah covered in sores from chickenpox.
“Our poor baby boy who is too young to be immunised has caught the chickenpox. It has almost been a week since they showed up. Today he was admitted to Ipswich Hospital with a secondary infection.”
Ms Burke and her three-year-old daughter Kaliah have also contracted chickenpox. But thankfully, as the little girl has been vaccinated, she only has a few spots and is otherwise well.
The mother described adult chickenpox as “horrible and painful”.
“I’d rather give birth with no pain relief,” she wrote.
Elijah before he fell ill. Photo: Facebook
“Bottom line if you don’t vaccinate your kids you’re a bloody idiot. Think about the risk you are putting on other helpless kids that are too young or who actually can’t be vaccinated!”
The plight of baby Elijah has touched hearts everywhere. More than 36,000 people have shared the photos since they were posted on Thursday. Others have sent the family messages of support.
“Oh my gosh, poor bub! Can’t stand hearing about stupid selfish people not vaccinating their children,” one commenter wrote
“If even one more person vaccinates because of this post it’d be a win. But you and you family shouldn’t have to go through this. Man it makes me angry,” said another.
Ms Burke told The Sunshine Coast Daily her son had been crying and trying to itch the sores that now cover his entire head. When the baby boy refused to drink his bottle, she realised the sores must have spread inside his mouth and throat.
“It’s horrible I can’t think of anything worse (than watching him go through this),” she said.
“I’m very annoyed that he’s sick. I’m a strong believer in vaccinations and I’m sure if he was old enough to have the shot he wouldn’t be so sick.”
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and it is a highly infectious disease. It causes an itchy red rash with blisters and while most people recover, it can cause serious complications.
Immunisation against chickenpox is included in the combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine for children at 18 months.
Children who are vaccinated against chicken pox may still get the virus, however their symptoms will be mild and it is unlikely any complications will result.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, yet, when you think about this condition you may not automatically equate it with blood clots.
However, most heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) are caused by blood clots that limit or block blood flow to your heart.
If you make it to the emergency room, clot-busting medications may be administered because the faster you can break up the clot, the faster you can restore normal blood flow (i.e, oxygen!) to your body.
Preventing blood clots, then, including “breaking up” any potential clots before they develop, is a key strategy to heart health no matter what your age. One way to do this is to attack clots at their root source: fibrin.
What Are Blood Clots Made of and How Do They Form?
Blood clots are made up primarily of fibrin, an insoluble protein that also makes up scar tissue. Your body produces fibrin in response to bleeding. Specifically, the soluble protein fibrinogen is converted into fibrin at the site of a wound via clotting enzymes called thrombin.[i]
It’s an amazing process that’s absolutely crucial to your health and healing, but it must be properly balanced by the action of plasmin, an enzyme known as your body’s natural blood thinner. Plasmin helps to remove excess or unnecessary accumulated proteins so your blood can flow freely.
If this balance is upset, serious consequences including blood clots and heart attack can result. One study published in the Italian Heart Journal noted:[ii]
“When fibrin deposition and removal are properly balanced, the organism is protected from both a catastrophic loss of blood at the site of injury and the inappropriate loss of fluidity within the vascular system.
When these activities are not properly balanced, however, severe bleeding or thromboses [blood clots] can occur. Myocardial infarction [heart attack] is a common and morbid consequence of the latter.”
Atherothrombosis: A Blood Clot Within Your Artery
You’re probably familiar with the term atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Less widely known, yet the leading cause of death in the Western world,[iii] is atherothrombosis — a blood clot that forms within your artery as a result of atherosclerosis.[iv]
Fibrinogen is one of the most studied risk factors in the development of atherothrombosis.[v] Like atherosclerosis, this condition can progress for years with no symptoms until it finally manifests as a heart attack or sudden death.
Fibrinogen levels may give some insight into your risk of this condition, however, as research shows a significant association between high fibrinogen levels and risk of heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and cardiovascular death.[vi]
The association is so strong that the risk of cardiovascular events in people with the highest fibrinogen levels was twice that of people with lower levels — and this was true in both healthy people and those already at high risk of heart disease and stroke.[vii] Even slight increases in fibrinogen levels may increase your risk of future heart disease.[viii]
Risks of Hypercoagulation
Hypercoagulation is another condition related to increased fibrin in your blood and, as a result, an increased risk of blood clots and related conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolisms (PE), heart attack and stroke. Even kidney failure can occur if a blood clot forms in your kidneys.
Even in cases when excess fibrin does not lead to a blood clot, problems may still occur. Research suggests fibrin deposited in your blood vessels may lead to nutrient deficiencies, lack of oxygen and even chronic fatigue syndrome.[ix][x]
There are many causes of hypercoagulation, including genetic and lifestyle factors. In the latter case, being overweight or obese, smoking, using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, long plane or car trips, extended bed rest and pregnancy may all increase your risk.
How to Remove Excess Fibrin From Your Blood
It’s possible to remove excess fibrin in your body. The key is activating your body’s natural fibrin cleanup crew, which is made of proteolytic enzymes, a group of systemic enzymes responsible for breaking down protein molecules. They hit masses of excess fibrin and eat them away — literally!
For instance, after 2 months of taking proteolytic enzymes, healthy study participants had decreases in fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII (other proteins involved in blood clotting) by 9 percent, 14 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.[xi] Those at high risk of heart disease had similar reductions (7 percent, 13 percent, and 19 percent, respectively) after taking the enzymes. Decreases in red blood cell aggregation and blood viscosity have also been demonstrated via proteolytic enzymes.[xii]
Systemic enzymes are naturally produced in your pancreas, but your natural production declines with age; these fibrin busters become largely depleted by age 50, with significant declines beginning as early as your late 20s.
Fortunately, improvement is easy… simply supplement your body’s supply of these vital enzymes for heart health. And, as an added bonus, proteolytic enzymes help fight pain-causing inflammation, cleanse toxins from your blood, fight viruses and fortify your immune system.