The Science Behind Stem Cells

As the foundation for every organ and tissue in the human body, stem cells have demonstrated the potential and promise for the treatment of many common diseases, including spinal cord injury, burns, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.

A recent experimental study has generated a new technique that can restore vision in mice that display end-stage eye disease, generally considered to lead to irreversible vision loss. By utilizing stem cells in a lab to grow new retina tissue, which was subsequently transplanted into the mice with retinal degeneration, scientists concluded that over 40% of the mice showed increased ability to see light.

The results of this procedure are particularly significant, given that this is the first time researchers have successfully transplanted the retina’s light receptors—the cells that sense light—in order to connect them to the nervous system, which ultimately transmits signals to the brain.

While human eyes invariably have a different environment than mice, and might not accept the same retinal transplants, the clinical study shows possible far-reaching implications and results for stem cell research.

Recognizing the need for knowledge surrounding stem cell protocols and practices, Metabolic Medical Institute has designed the world’s first Stem Cell Fellowship program. Learn more about the Stem Cell Fellowship.

Environment & Exposure

A $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow its recipients, professors of clinical and development psychology at several institutions including The George Washington University, to conduct research on the environmental and genetic factors of childhood development. Their task: to evaluate how consistent and prolonged exposures to the environment can potentially impact health and spur the need to detoxify systems.

The research is a component of a project termed the Early Growth and Development Study, an ongoing study that has followed the ways in which genetic and environmental factors can influence emotional development coupled with prenatal factors. This research will follow the same sample of children, studying their exposure to pollution and environmental toxins.

These studies are significant because they can potentially lead to a greater understanding of childhood health, and the extent of the environment’s influence. The overall project will assess and analyze not only the development of childhood obesity, but also the environment on genetic contributions to asthma, and newer developmental outcomes of mental health.

Our event in March, Module VI: A Metabolic and Functional Approach to Environmental Exposure and Detoxification, will concentrate on the symptoms, disorders, and diseases associated with exposures to toxic causes of oxidative stress.

At MMI we partner with GWU for Fellowship & Master’s Degree program offerings. We collectively share the same mission in spearheading educational efforts that promote preventive and integrative health. Register for the module and hear experts in the field synthesize current research on environmental exposures in human health, with a specific focus on clinical assessments in order to develop effective methods in reducing toxic burden and improving metabolic efficiency.

Gut & Autoimmunity: The Intimate Ties

The ways in which factors like genes, infections, the microbiome/gut, and environment—the formulaic composition of the autoimmune system—interact collectively help create environments that promote either disease or health. Though genes cannot technically be altered, they can easily be influenced, and manifest themselves differently through the microbiome, infections, and environment.

Autoimmune diseases are the third leading cause of morbidity in the industrialized world, surpassed only by cancer and heart disease. Several researchers are proponents of a framework that uses scientifically based targeted nutritional therapies to address the underlying systemic imbalances of these diseases.

This approach, rooted in functional medicine, concentrates on the body holistically, as a whole, rather than a collection of separate entities and organs. Because autoimmune diseases can be influenced through food and nutrition, and the gastrointestinal track ‘controls’ between 70 and 80% of the body’s immune cells, certain dietary changes can both feed the microbiome and reduce inflammation: ultimately lessening allergies and autoimmunity.

Some interventions include removing gluten, which has been shown to increase inflammation, and eating more plant foods: particularly fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. Moreover, removing cow’s milk and adding supplements and vitamins can help fight disease—rather than feed it.

Learn more about autoimmune disease & inflammation through Module VII: A Metabolic and Functional Approach to Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease.

 

IBS & Genetics

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the most common gastrointestinal disorder, affects more than 10% of the population, with symptoms that include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and gas. Yet the causes of IBS have remained largely unknown, which has historically inhibited the development of effective treatment options.

New findings from a research team in Sweden, however, have identified a link between the genetic defects in carbohydrate digestion and IBS. Because those diagnosed with IBS often connect their symptoms with fermentable carbohydrates, the scientists found that rare defective sucrose-isomaltase (SI) mutations were twice as common among IBS cases. The poor carbohydrate digestion in the intestine could potentially lead to malabsorption and severe bowel symptoms: markers for IBS.

It is possible that these results will allow doctors and medical professionals to tailor and personalize more effective IBS treatment options based on SI genotype.

Learn more about comprehensive metabolic, functional, and nutritional approaches to gastrointestinal dysfunction and diseases.

Addiction: A Brain Disease

A landmark recent report from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy officially categorizes addiction as a brain disease, citing that nearly 21 million Americans were directly affected by drug and/or alcohol addiction in the past year—approximately the same amount of Americans who suffer from diabetes.

Dr. Murthy’s primary argument advocates for a global, cultural shift in perception: changing the way we view those who struggle with addiction. Instead of regarding addiction as an inherent moral failing, Dr. Murthy urges people to understand the ways in which addiction actually manifests as a chronic illness, and one that must be approached with the “same skill and compassion” as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The American Society of Addiction Medication reports that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, driven by the opioid addiction epidemic that has resulted in 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. A 2016 publication revealed statistics that confirmed the direct correlation between overdose rates, sales, and substance use disorders, and prescription pain relievers. As the number of sales of prescription pain relievers has increased, so too has the overdose death rate. Research shows that while the overdose rate in 2008 quadrupled from 1999, so too did the sale of prescription pain pills—in an almost exact parallel. Moreover, the treatment admission rate for substance use disorder in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate.

Even more troubling is the data that points to the shift from prescription opioids to illicit drugs like heroin, due to the high pricing and difficulty in obtaining pills. Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the problem, however, is its complexity: while the abuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids is incontrovertibly resulting in greater rates of addiction and an increase in the number of overdoses, prescription medications are also critically important for many people who suffer from chronic pain. The challenge lies in reconciling the many facets and dimensions of the problem—starting with lessening the stigma of addiction, and alleviating the burden of shame that makes many people with substance use disorders less likely to seek help.

Learn more about our Addiction Certification, a 4-part program that provides the necessary education for all types of practitioners who treat patients dealing with addiction.

November: National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

When your family member no longer recognizes you…

This month is a time to both reflect upon, and recognize, all of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. In the early ‘80s, less than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with the disease; today, more than 5 million people are affected. President Reagan himself succumbed to Alzheimer’s only half a decade after he left office.

One of the primary mechanisms in raising public health awareness is initiating and engaging in dialogues. Because there has historically been a widespread practice of late detection, many do not seek treatment early enough, when effects of available interventions could be best optimized. Routinely prescribed medications are more effective before there is already substantial brain damage; lifestyle changes like nutrition counseling and increased exercise can alter the trajectory of the disease and increase quality of life with an earlier diagnosis.

Research has pointed to significant risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity as indicators of greater risk for cognitive decline: one’s brain health is strongly correlated with one’s heart health. Managing dynamics like nutrition and positive lifestyle choices, in addition to social dynamics like smoking and isolation, are equally important in preventing the onset of mental/cerebral deterioration later in life.

To learn more about the most recent developments in the neurological field, register for our course Module III: A Metabolic and Functional Approach to Neurology, which provides an overview of degenerative disorders and the role of neurotransmitters in pathophysiology.

Alternatively, our Brain Fitness Certification is a 4-part program that provides healthcare professionals with a critical foundation in neuroscience, application of neurological principles to the management of cognitive decline, and a discussion of emerging brain fitness therapies.

Help spread the message. Be an ambassador for change.

Doctor Burnout

“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” —Cicero

The past year has seen a host of studies and articles releasing jarring statistics and anecdotes surrounding rates of physician ‘burnout’—commonly defined as a loss of enthusiasm and a low sense of accomplishment, coupled with feelings of exhaustion and ineffectiveness. The Archives of Internal Medicine conducted a 2012 study using a large sample of U.S. physicians from all specialty disciplines, and their findings depicted a gloomy picture of healthcare: not only were burnouts more common among physicians than other U.S. workers, physicians in specialties at the front line of care were also found to be at the greatest risk.

The 2015 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report delivered similar findings, reporting that almost half of all physicians stated that they had experienced burnout. An analysis from researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association additionally indicated that doctors’ work-life balance is progressively worsening, further expressing that this “disturbing trend” could negatively impact patient care. Even more concerning is data reported in a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that the rate of depression among doctors in training was much greater than the general population.

There must be a collective shift in order to move towards an optimal system of healthcare in which physicians feel continuously motivated and passionate, and transition away from the current, traditional practices that inevitably lead to doctor burnout. Join us on our mission to reinvigorate physicians in healing their patients. Rediscover the passion you once felt. Learn new and innovative methods to prevent disease before it has taken hold. Our Fellowship in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine will help you be the change.

Contact one of our Educational Advisors to learn more about the program at info@a4m.com or 561-997-0112.

Nutrition Education in Medical School

Recent statistics show that more than two-thirds of Americans are considered to be overweight or obese. With diabetes and obesity on the rise, in addition to spikes in other lifestyle-related diseases, it has become critical to highlight the necessity of self-care and healthy living habits. Yet while physicians are generally considered to be reliable sources regarding nutrition, more than 50% of graduating medical students continue to rate their knowledge as ‘inadequate,’ and only one in eight patients receives counseling from their doctors on dietary health benefits.

A study designed to quantify the required number of hours of nutrition education at U.S. medical schools, in addition to an investigation regarding the types of courses offered, reaffirmed the supposition that medical students receive an inadequate amount of nutrition education. Only 27% of surveyed schools required a course dedicated to nutrition; on average, U.S. medical schools only offer 19.6 hours of nutrition education—across four years of medical school.

Throughout the past several decades, there has been a push towards improving the medical nutrition education that students receive. With suboptimal knowledge about dietary habits, future physicians are selling both themselves and their patients very short. It is imperative to equip health practitioners with the necessary tools and information that they can utilize in their practices, ultimately addressing the root causes of real, pervasive problems.

Learn more about our Fellowship in Metabolic & Nutritional Medicine, which offers a new form of medicine that is personalized, preventive, and predictive. Begin your journey to a new standard of medical education rooted in wellness and health.

Earn up to 24 CME credits, live or online, with our module dedicated to nutrition and exercise.

Stem Cell Therapy: The Body Healing Itself

Stem cell therapy, a critical segment of the regenerative medicine field and market, is a quickly evolving field, with the potential to help people heal more rapidly, in addition to avoiding invasive surgical procedures and treatments.

The ability of the body to heal itself through this therapy is derived from immature, self-renewing cells located in the body’s bone marrow, which can ultimately restore and repair a wide variety of bodily tissues. Only one week ago, the NIH awarded a $5.2 million grant to researchers who have collaborated to explore mechanisms of lung regeneration in diseases like cystic fibrosis.

Scientists have also recently found that a specific type of stem cell can generate a range of benefits for regenerative medicine, as they can be differentiated into multiple cell types including neurons, heart, pancreatic, and liver cells. These studies have further confirmed that stem cell therapy can treat neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and other conditions.

This rapidly growing sector offers physicians, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and medical professionals an opportunity to transition towards a more therapeutic approach. In areas where current treatment options such as surgery and pharmaceuticals are not effective, stem cell therapy offers a promising prospect of hope.

Learn more about stem cell therapy and its applications in regenerative medicine. The Fellowship in Stem Cell Therapies offers a comprehensive overview of relevant diseases, current research, and best practices for in-office applications.

Immunotherapy: Investigating Cancer Research

The proliferation and advent of technology in medical research has spurred new techniques and treatments to combat cancer, a disease with an alarming mortality rate that will lead to an estimated 1,685,210 new cases in 2016, and 595,690 deaths.

The model of immunotherapy—using one’s body as the tool with which to fight cancer—has been considered an experimental treatment since its conception, in stark contrast to the standard chemotherapy and radiation that is traditionally offered for cancer patients. While chemotherapy directly attacks the cancer, immunotherapy harnesses the patient’s own immune system to fight off the disease.

The most widely used forms of immunotherapy include drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which block a mechanism used by cancer cells to shut down the immune system, and cell therapy, which involves removing a patient’s immune cells, genetically altering them to help fight cancer, multiplying them, and ultimately infusing them back into the bloodstream.

While pharmaceutical companies initially were disinterested in the research and science, favoring drugs that had the ability to be mass-produced and treat everyone, drug companies are progressively funneling more money into clinical trials and tests—attempting to understand the powerful and critically important tool further.

Quoted in a recent New York Times article, Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of melanoma and immunotherapeutics services at Memorial Sloan Kettering, articulated what many doctors are experiencing as they begin to utilize this therapy, once considered a mere pipe dream: “This is a fundamental change in the way that we think about cancer therapy.”

Other doctors that have seen almost miraculous results in clinical trials have expressed similar sentiments: “Think of how dauntingly personalized this is,” says Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute. “We are using their own cells to treat a unique mutation in their own tumor.” This individualized treatment has been proven to be effective in many cases, generating complete remissions in many patients who felt they were out of options.

Yet while immunotherapy has proven to be stunningly successful in several cases, doctors are continuing to explore why the treatment has a higher efficacy in some patients, while others relapse. Moreover, the arduous, lengthy, and complex process of re-engineering and duplicating cells is very costly, and is still undergoing scrutiny and examination.

Want more information about Metabolic Medical Institute’s Integrative Cancer Therapies Fellowship? Gain access to cutting-edge therapy modalities, along with a particular segment targeted towards the immunology of cancer, coupled with updated information and research surrounding immunotherapy. Learn more now.