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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine September 2008
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LEF Board Member Addresses European Stem Cell Congress

Life Extension Foundation board member, Michael West, PhD, unveiled promising new avenues of stem cell research at the European Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Congress earlier this year in London, England.*

In his talk, “Mapping the human embryome: multiplex strategies for the purification and characterization of human embryonic progenitor cells,” Dr. West focused on pioneering plans to create the first systematic map of all the cell types derived from human embryonic stem cells as was done with human DNA or genome mapping in the 1990s.

He hopes that this map will speed the day when stem cells will be used as immune-compatible cell therapies for degenerative diseases associated with aging.

Dr. West is CEO of BioTime, Inc, a California-based manufacturer of medical and surgical supplies, including artificial blood replacement products. BioTime’s wholly owned subsidiary, Embryome Sciences, Inc, is leading the company’s foray into the promising field of regenerative medicine with plans to develop new medical and research products using embryonic stem cell technology. The Life Extension Foundation helps to financially support Dr. West’s stem cell research.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Available at: http://www.biotimeinc.com/news.htm. Accessed July 1, 2008.

Beta Carotene Protects Against Sunburn

Beta Carotene Protects Against Sunburn

Supplementation with beta carotene markedly reduces the likelihood of sunburn, according to a recent review of the literature.* Beta carotene is a well-known antioxidant that may have anti-aging effects in the skin.

German researchers conducted a meta-analysis and identified seven relevant studies of the association between beta carotene supplementation and sunburn risk. The pooled data showed a beneficial effect of beta carotene. Protection became significant only after at least 10 weeks of supplementation and increased with each additional month of beta carotene use.

Although beta carotene achieves a sun protection factor (SPF) of about four, much lower than sunscreens, supplementation achieves a chronic rather than acute type of protection that is uniform over the skin surface. The authors conclude that “topical application of sunscreens and systemic photoprotection with beta carotene are not competing strategies which are intended to replace each other, but instead they are complementary in nature and should be combined.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Köpcke W, Krutmann J. Protection from sunburn with beta carotene—a meta-analysis. Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):284-8.

Nutrient Combination is Protective Against Ischemic Stroke Damage

A nutritional supplement consisting of blueberry, green tea, vitamin D3, and carnosine provides animals with significant protection against the damage induced by an ischemic stroke, according to a report in Rejuvenation Research.*

Rats received the nutrient blend or a placebo for two weeks. They then underwent standardized tests of behavioral performance prior to an artificially induced ischemic stroke.

Rats that had received the supplement blend prior to stroke induction fared 24% better on tests of neurological dysfunction than controls. Supplement-fed rats also experienced a significant 75% reduction in a measure of cerebral infarction damage compared with control animals. Additionally, supplement-fed rats showed significantly greater signs of neurogenesis (generation of new nerve cells), signaling better recovery from stroke-induced injury.

“These data demonstrate the remarkable neuroprotective effects of [the supplement blend] when given prior to stroke, possibly acting via its neurogenic potential,” concluded researchers.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Yasuhara T, Hara K, Maki M, et al. Dietary supplementation exerts neuroprotective effects in ischemic stroke model. Rejuvenation Res. 2008 Feb;11(1):201-14.

Calcium and Magnesium Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

Anthocyanins Show Promise for Obesity

A presentation from the 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology revealed that calcium and magnesium administered intravenously to patients undergoing chemotherapy results in a significant reduction in neurotoxicity, a common side effect of chemotherapeutic drugs.* Neurotoxicity is characterized by pain in the extremities that can be severe enough to prevent cancer patients from continuing their treatment.

Researchers with the North Central Cancer Treatment Group administered intravenous calcium and magnesium before and after treatment with the chemotherapeutic drug oxaliplatin to 50 of 102 patients with advanced colon cancer. The remaining 52 patients received oxaliplatin with an intravenous placebo.

The research team found a significant reduction in neurotoxicity incidence, severity, and time to onset associated with the use of calcium and magnesium compared with the placebo group. Importantly, calcium and magnesium did not reduce the activity of oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy.

“Now that we have shown the effectiveness of calcium and magnesium in reducing oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity, a further step may be to evaluate the benefit of calcium and magnesium in reducing neurotoxicity caused by other medications,” the study co-chair noted.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/540875/. Accessed June 30, 2008.

Low-Dose Resveratrol Gets to the Heart of Longevity

Whey Protein Supplement Effective for Weight Loss

Resveratrol produces cardioprotective benefits, even at relatively low doses, according to a new report.* Previous research demonstrates that resveratrol, which is found in grapes, pomegranates, and other foods, favorably modulates the genetic changes that occur with aging.

Researchers fed middle-aged (14-month-old) rats a control diet, a diet containing a small amount of resveratrol, or a calorie-restricted diet until the animals were 30 months of age.

Calorie restriction and resveratrol produced similar genetic effects in the heart, skeletal muscle, and brain. While aging altered the expression of 1,029 heart genes in the control animals, calorie restriction reduced 90% of these age-related alterations in gene expression, and resveratrol mitigated 92% of such changes.

“Thus, resveratrol at doses that can be readily achieved through dietary supplementation in humans is as effective as calorie restriction in opposing the majority of age-related transcriptional alterations in the aging heart,” the authors wrote.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002264. Accessed June 30, 2008.

Melatonin Improves Sleep in Critically Ill Patients

Melatonin Improves Sleep in Critically Ill Patients

Melatonin supplementation improves both the quantity and quality of sleep in critically ill patients compared with placebo, according to a British study.* Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

The researchers studied 24 patients hospitalized in an intensive care unit who were being taken off mechanical ventilation. Participants were randomly assigned to take melatonin 10 mg, given as a liquid, or placebo each night for four nights and then monitored for sleep quality. On average, the placebo group achieved only 2.5 hours of sleep per night, but melatonin use was associated with 3.5 hours of sleep, for an increase of 47%. The quality of sleep was also markedly better in the treated group.

No important adverse effects were noted. Use of melatonin in critically ill patients therefore holds promise, although the authors note that a lower dose of 1-2 mg would probably be sufficient.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Bourne RS, Mills GH, Minelli C. Melatonin therapy to improve nocturnal sleep in critically ill patients: encouraging results from a small randomised controlled trial. Crit Care. 2008 Apr 18;12(2):R52.

Luteolin Tames the Flames

The flavonoid luteolin may help reduce inflammation in the brain, according to a recent report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.*

Researchers studied luteolin’s effects in microglia—brain cells involved in immune defense. Although inflammatory cytokines produced by these cells help fight invading microorganisms, the resulting neuroinflam-mation can destroy neurons, which may contribute to cognitive impairment or neurodegenerative diseases.

Scientists pretreated microglia with varying concentrations of luteolin, and exposed the cells to lipopolysaccharide to initiate inflammation. Luteolin inhibited the production of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) by as much as 90% compared with untreated cells.

In another experiment, researchers gave varying concentrations of luteolin to mice 21 days before injecting them with lipopolysaccharide. Luteolin helped decrease IL-6 levels; mice that received the highest concentration experienced particular protection in the brain’s hippo-campus, which is involved with memory and learning.

These findings suggest that luteolin may help mitigate brain inflam-mation and its consequences, which can include cognitive deficits.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Jang S, Kelley KW, Johnson RW. Luteolin reduces IL-6 production in microglia by inhibiting JNK phosphorylation and activation of AP-1. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 May 27;105(21):7534-9.

Calcium Reduces Fracture Risk

Calcium supplementation may reduce the risk of bone fractures by an impressive 72% in generally healthy adults, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1

Using a controlled study design, the researchers administered 1,200 mg elemental calcium or placebo to study participants with an average age of 61 years. The supplemented individuals experienced significantly fewer fractures over a four-year period. Interestingly, the protective benefits of calcium ceased once supplementation was stopped.1 The results of this study remind both patients and doctors of the critical importance of calcium supplementation as one ages.

While an earlier meta-analysis published by the same group failed to find that calcium supplementation reduced fracture risk,2 other scientists have proposed that calcium supplementation is optimally successful when accompanied with vitamin D supplementation, as calcium does not function in isolation in optimizing bone health.3

—Jonathan Ozner

Reference

1. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Rees JR, Grau MV, Barry E, Gui J, Baron JA. Effect of calcium supplementation on fracture risk: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jun;87(6):1945-51.
2. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Baron JA, et al. Calcium intake and hip fracture risk in men and women: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1780-90.
3. Nieves JW, Lindsay R. Calcium and fracture risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1579-80.