Why Excellacor?

Excellacor_450_FrontExcellacor is a powerful systemic enzyme blend of serrapeptase, proteases and herbs specifically formulated to support normal fibrin metabolism, metabolic health, and joint, muscle and tissue health.*

What’s Inside Excellacor

  • Enteric-coated Serrapeptase (phthalate-free): a powerful fibrinolytic enzyme.*
  • Bromelain: Proteolytic enzyme found in the pineapple plant; known for immune support.*
  • Papain: Derived from papaya; supports the body’s natural immune response.*
  • Lipase: Supports the breakdown of fats into essential fatty acids that are needed for healthy circulation.*
  • Amylase: Breaks down carbohydrates and starches into simple sugars.*
  • Rutin: Bioflavonoid that provides antioxidant support.*
  • Amla: Natural source of Vitamin C, supports regulatory immune response.*

What some might not know, but will be happy to hear: Excellacor is free of pesticides, chemicals, preservatives, animal derivatives, dairy, yeast, fish or shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. All individual enzymes are kosher-certified ingredients, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

What Sets Excellacor Apart

Excellacor contains AST’s original proprietary formula created by our master enzymologist. Originally marketed as Exclzyme, it has been commercially available for nearly 20 years. Its loyal use by companies, health practitioners and consumers have made it the #1 non-animal derived systemic formulation.

Excellacor has an enteric coating that allows the powerful enzyme blend to bypass the acidic environment of the stomach and reach the small intestine, where absorption occurs. Our enteric-coated serrapeptase has been formulated with the use of Methacrylic Acid Copolymer (MAAC), a safe food-grade compound used in the pharmaceutical industry with no reported side effects. Without enteric coating, enzymes will denature, or lose their effectiveness, in the stomach.

In addition, various proteases in Excellacor help break down proteins and amino acid chains, promoting total body support.* Fibrin is a protein that the body produces when healing. The protein precursor fibrinogen is converted into fibrin, which forms a layer of connective tissue inside the blood vessel. The fibrin strands assemble into a net-like structure over an affected vessel and harden, forming a “patch” to prevent further damage.

While fibrin is meant to have a protective function in the body, too much fibrin buildup can cause problems. Excellacor’s unique proprietary formula and efficacy-maximizing enteric coating make it the most potent blend on the market to support normal fibrin metabolism, metabolic health, and joint, muscle, and tissue health.*



Living With Arthritis

If you experience pain and stiffness in your body while in motion, you might have arthritis. Arthritis causes inflammation within your joints and can attack any part of the body. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling. This can be caused by injury, wear and tear, age, and muscle strains. Overtime, a swollen joint can be severely damaged leading to immobility.

There are many types of arthritis, affecting different joints of the body. The most common form is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis begins when cartilage between joints begins to wear and tear. Once the cartilage is destroyed, bones will rub against each other, causing pain and decreased range of motion. Symptoms of osteoarthritis can range from mild pain to painful stiffness that does not subside. Older individuals are at higher risk of osteoarthritis as they become less able to recover from injury.

Rheumatoid arthritis is anoarthritis.jpgther common type of arthritis. RA is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues, affecting the smaller joints in the fingers and wrists. Symptoms of pain and stiffness usually increase following rest periods. Periods of exacerbation of this disease may come unexpected. During this time, pain management and rest is imperative. Though the exact cause of RA is unknown, pain management is the goal of treatment.

The Importance of Stretching

If arthritis pain has immobilized you, you must do what you dread most: Get up and move your stiff body. The only way to relieve a stiff body is to move it. And by move I mean, STRETCH.

Stretching should be in every arthritis patient’s treatment plan. Stretching not only warms the body, it helps prevent further wear and tear of muscles and joints. A good stretch helps keep joints flexible and less likely to experience injury. Though stretching may hurt at first, the more frequent you perform stretches, the more comfortable your body will feel. When done properly, it can provide relaxation, flexibility, and relief to stiff joints. Stretching is easy and safe. It can be something to look forward to do destress and relieve pain from arthritis.

Tips on how to Stretch

  • Perform each stretch slowly to prevent injuries
  • Create a daily stretching routinestretch.jpg
  • You should stretch as far as you are comfortable and hold for a few seconds
  • Stretching should not include bouncing, it should be gentle and controlled\
  • Keep your breathing soft and consistent
  • Stretching should not be painful
  • Don’t overstretch

Enzyme Therapy

Enzyme therapy has been used as an alternative to symptoms caused by arthritis. Instead of reaching for that NSAID, systemic enzymes have been proven to assist in joint discomfort. Systemic enzymes, serrapeptase in particular, when taken consistently reduces symptoms of arthritis. The immune system malfunctions in patients with arthritis. This damages the body’s own healthy tissues and causes chaos to the body’s internal well-being. It is vital to consume supplements that support symptoms and slow down the disease process. Systemic enzymes not only helps the body to slow down the disease process but also enhances a healing response.

Exclzyme Newsletter

NSAIDs vs Systemic Enzyme Therapy

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAIDs)

The human body produces the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme is responsible for the synthesis of prostanglandin, an important hormone that helps regulate normal body functions and stimulates an immune response when needed. COX can be broken into 2 parts; COX1 and COX2. COX1 is continuously stimulated by the body to support kidney function, protect gastric mucosa, and control platelet count for vasoconstriction. COX2, however, is only stimulated as part of an immune response that results in symptoms of inflammation and pain. Each form of COX catalyzes arachidonic acid to form its own prostaglandins resulting in its specific desired effects.

Aspirin and many other NSAIDs have the ability to bind to active sites of COX, preventing the catalysis of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. In doing so, they block functions of both COX1 and COX2. Research shows that many NSAIDs in use today show no selectivity to COX1 and COX2 (aspirin) leading to an extensive list of side effects. Aspirin and similar NSAIDs used for chronic pain and inflammation have commonly shown to increase production of stomach acid leading to ulcerations and gastrointestinal bleeding. Because COX1 helps regulate vital body functions such as kidney homeostasis, renal failure is a possible side effect. COX2 inhibiting NSAIDs such as Celebrex also inhibit common side effects from long-term use.

Due to the nature of these medications, the safety of your own health should be the biggest factor when deciding which NSAID is most suitable for you. NSAIDs are contraindicated to a large population who have existing health issues such as GI bleeds, kidney dysfunction, and low platelet count. They have been the most common form of pain therapy due to its fast-acting agents. NSAIDs are not recommended for everyone despite their easy access. The benefits and long-term risks related with NSAIDs should be weighted very carefully.

Alternative Pain Relief

Biotechnology has exposed the use of systemic enzymes for a variety of symptoms including pain and inflammation. As a dietary supplement, they do not expose side effects. But rather, contribute to the body’s natural production of enzymes, catalyzing reactions more quickly. Serrapeptase, the main ingredient in Exclzyme and a potent proteolytic, has been proven to be an effective enzyme for the break-down of fibrin, the main source of inflammation and pain. Clinical studies show that serrapeptase induces fibrinolytic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-edemic effects on tissues. Serrapeptase has the ability to block the release of pain-inducing signals from inflamed tissues without inhibiting prostaglandins.

Cell Stress and Inflammation of the Gut

New Research

The Western world is no stranger to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease. While IBD triggers are still unknown, researchers recently identified a new step in how the disease progresses. Using animal models of IBD, researchers demonstrate that a specific protein located in the intestinal mucosa may be to blame for IBD. It’s estimated that 3.5 million people in Europe and the states suffer from IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease). The condition is characterized by chronic inflammation of the bowel due to immune dysfunction. Specifically, the immune system reacts to normal bacterial species that naturally reside in the human gut. When the immune system overreacts, the intestinal cells that line the mucosa aren’t able to properly function, and most researchers believe that this can be triggered by psychological factors like stress.

Some of the most recent research on IBD mechanisms refers to a phenomenon called unfolded protein response (UPR). UPR is described as a chain of events involving cellular signaling with the function of protecting cells from stress. The UPR can be thought of as a biological repair system that turns on when protein folding goes wrong. When proteins are produced, they fold in a specific way, but this process can sometimes go wrong. When the proteins don’t fold properly, it creates cellular stress. In fact, this is one of the most common causes on cellular stress within the body. As cellular stress progresses, the signaling cascade is interrupted, causing inflammation and cell death. When this occurs in the gut, the intestinal mucosa becomes damaged, and researchers believe this process is a precursor for IBD development.

A protein abbreviated as CHOP plays a significant role not only in activating UPR, but also in the inflammatory process. The animal model was used to more closely analyze the role that CHOP plays in the development of chronic bowel disease (including IBD). When CHOP proteins are abundant, the mice are more susceptible to inflammation in the gut. Additionally, increased levels of CHOP are associated with slower inflammatory reduction times and also slow the body’s natural regenerative process. While the research doesn’t indicate that increased levels of CHOP does not cause cellular death, it is linked to inhibition of cellular division, which explains why increased CHOP is associated with slower regeneration of intestinal cells. The activation of CHOP is often the first step in chronic inflammation of the bowel, and researchers believe that a properly functioning UPR signaling cascade is critical for intestinal health. In addition, impairment of the body’s protective functions plays a significant role in the development of IBD.

Consumer and Patient Perspectives

While the researchers work to better understand IBD triggers and biochemical processes that contribute to the disease, patients and consumers continue to track lifestyle and nutrition factors that reduce or aggravate their condition. Diet is a huge part of IBD, not only because IBD is an intestinal disease, but also because the gut is so closely linked with the immune system. As an immune disorder, IBD affects the way that the gut and the immune system communicate. For example, those with IBD are often limited in terms of dietary choices. Foods that commonly trigger IBD symptoms include (but are not limited to): carbonated drinks, caffeine, dairy, legumes, foods high in fiber (like fruits and vegetables), meats, nuts, spicy foods, and foods high in sugar. In other words, just about every food is capable of triggering IBD flare-ups. IBD patients often describe their relationship with food as a lifelong dynamic learning process. Unfortunately, part of this learning process involves learning the hard way. In other words, there is no way to learn what kind of foods trigger IBD until the food is consumed and symptoms subsequently appear.

To compound matters, IBD patients often experience numerous nutritional problems as a direct result of their condition. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are more likely to occur in these patients due to diet restrictions and fear of triggering IBD symptoms. In addition to avoiding important food groups altogether, IBD patients also experience incomplete digestion due to the condition. The symptoms initially mimic those of a simple food intolerance. Cramping, belching, flatulence and bloating may occur – but in IBD, these symptoms are accompanied by a damaging inflammatory response from the immune system. When food is not properly digested the body is unable to take vital nutrients into the bloodstream and use them for essential biochemical processes. For this reason, many IBD patients are deficient in important nutrients.

Natural Remedies

IBD is a complex disorder involving more than one body system. Many patients choose to add alternative therapies to their standard forms of treatment. Here are some of the most promising alternative therapies available for patients suffering from IBD:

Probiotics: Probiotics are especially important in those with IBD. The inflammation caused by IBD can throw off the body’s ratio of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria within the large intestine. When this occurs, it not only affects stool regularity, but also promotes immune dysfunction. The gut communicates with the immune system through intestinal bacteria, so it’s critical to replace beneficial bacteria that are lost as a result of IBD symptoms. In addition, research suggests that adding probiotics to an IBD regimen may even assist prescription IBD medications in effectiveness.

Digestive enzymes: Digestive enzymes play a central role in digestion. When supplementing with digestive enzymes, IBD patients are more likely to break down the food they consume, which not only prevents the onset of additional inflammation, but also helps to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Digestive enzymes help to ensure that nutrients are ready to be absorbed through the small intestine and into the bloodstream. These supplements also have preventative effects by reducing the chances of undigested food particles from reaching the large intestine. In turn, IBD symptoms like flatulence and diarrhea are less likely to occur.

Systemic enzymes: Systemic enzymes not only help reduce existing inflammation, but they also play an important role in immune regulation. By interrupting various points in the inflammatory cascade, systemic enzymes are effective in reducing the amount of circulating inflammatory molecules within the gut. It’s also important to note that those with IBD are often limited in terms of anti-inflammatory treatments. For example, NSAID’s are often off-limits because they are known to compromise the intestinal mucosa. Systemic enzymes offer effective anti-inflammatory benefits without the risks of NSAID’s, making them a perfect option for IBD patients.

Hope for AMD: How to slow the progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) refers to the deterioration of the macula. Located in the center of the retina, the macula is essential for clear vision. Damage to the macula often results in central vision loss. However, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) does not always cause complete blindness. In some cases peripheral vision will remain; yet, the loss of central vision is detrimental to sight and many find it extremely difficult to rely on peripheral vision for sight. Try reading this post with your head turned sideways…It’s not impossible, but it feels unnatural and odd. In any case, deterioration of the macula and vision loss greatly impacts the way routine activities are accomplished.

The leading cause of vision loss for people aged 60 and older is attributed to AMD. Approximately 10%-15% of those affected have the “wet” (exudative) type of AMD, while 80-90% of individuals have the dry type (or atrophic AMD).  Wet AMD is characterized by abnormal blood vessel clusters that are formed under the macula. The abnormally formed vessels tend to bleed and leak beneath the macula, causing scarred tissue accumulation and the macula to lift. A common symptom of wet AMD is the appearance of wavy lines.

Dry AMD progresses slower than wet, and in some cases dry AMD can actually progress to the wet type.  Dry AMD is characterized by the degradation of light sensitive cells in the macula. Symptoms of dry AMD include the need for brighter lights while reading, and a blurred or blind spot in the field of sight. The first sign of dry AMD is often an accumulation of drusen (small white or yellow deposits of extracellular material), which are detected during a dilated eye exam. Drusen are comprised of lipids, proteins and inflammatory cells, which led researchers to believe the immune response plays a great role in the pathogenesis of AMD.

Although age is attributed as the cause of AMD, research has identified a link between AMD and inflammation. Together age and other environmental factors increase the number of free radicals within the macula. Free radicals and other deposits of foreign material are major contributors to inflammation due to the amount of stress they exert on cellular tissues. Unfortunately, the immune response that initiates inflammation causes more damage, which is exacerbated by more free radicals and more inflammation, inevitably resulting in scarred tissue and deterioration of the macula. In other words, free radical damage and byproducts of the immune response initiate chronic inflammatory conditions that promote the signs of AMD.

Proteolytic enzymes used in Exclzyme, such as: serrapeptase, bromelain and papain, are capable of addressing the root cause of macular damage, having shown anti-inflammatory and fibrinolytic effects.  When taken systemically, enteric coated, proteolytic enzymes are absorbed via the small intestine into the bloodstream, where they catabolize pro-inflammatory debris. It is recommended to take 1-3 capsules 3 times a day; however, the dosage is dependent upon the individual’s risk.  Antioxidants and/or zinc supplementation may also slow the progression of AMD. In fact, The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the Federal government found that antioxidant and zinc supplementation can reduce the risk of developing AMD by 25%. AREDS suggests a daily dose of 500 mg of Vitamin C and 80 milligrams of zinc or zinc oxide, 400 IU Vitamin E, 15 mg Vitamin A and copper to prevent copper deficiency from the high dosage of zinc. Although there is currently no known cure for AMD, research continues to support promising alternatives to slow the progression of this condition.

Immune and Internal Issues with Eczema – Alternative Therapies

Quick background

Eczema is a skin condition that causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed. Although the condition most affects children, some adults also battle with the condition, which causes visible, thick, patchy rashes on the body. These rashes are often itchy and uncomfortable – and without treatment, are likely to become progressively worse. The condition not only affects the skin, but often creates symptoms like pitting and weak nails. Eczema is also commonly seen in combination with other immune disorders. For example, psoriatic arthritis, which causes swelling and pain in the joints is not unusual in those with eczema. Even though researchers have extensively explored possible causes of eczema, the underlying mechanisms have yet to be uncovered. Researchers do know, however, that eczema (like many other curious diseases) has roots in autoimmune dysfunction. In other words, the immune system attacks healthy skin cells. The body then produces new skin cells at an expedited rate – causing an accumulation of new skin cells, which leads to rashes.

Newest findings

One of the newest studies to look at eczema focuses on behavioral factors and how these factors relate to overall health in those with eczema. The study out of Northwestern University notes that adults with eczema often have higher rates of smoking, drinking, and obesity than adults without eczema. Even more alarming, adults with eczema have higher rates of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With about 10% of U.S. adults battling eczema, these numbers represent startling associations, and the study reminds us that eczema is more than skin-deep.

The negative behavioral patterns seen in those with eczema are likely due to a variety of factors. First, researchers explain that adults with eczema likely battled with the condition during adolescence and developmental years. This type of condition can take a toll on self-esteem and identity. It’s likely that a majority of those with eczema who partake in negative behaviors use smoking and drinking to help cope with the effects of their condition. The higher incidence of obesity among adults with eczema is likely related to eczema symptoms. Eczema can be extremely painful, and can even cause pain in the muscles and joints – making it less likely that those with eczema will be able to work out without painful effects. The study suggests that patients with eczema are in need of behavioral and lifestyle counseling, as well as standard treatment for the inflammatory skin condition. In fact, the numbers are somewhat egregious. The Northwestern study reports that adults with eczema have a 54% higher chance of being morbidly obese than adults without eczema, 48% higher chance of having hypertension, and 93% higher chance of having pre-diabetes. These patterns are largely due to the negative behavioral factors associated with having eczema.

Immune abnormality

Because eczema is an immune condition, it’s likely that negative behavioral factors add to immune dysfunction. Note that immune dysfunction usually leads to inflammatory conditions, as inflammation is one of the major ways that the immune system reacts to potential harm by pathogens or trauma. Negative behavioral patterns like smoking, drinking, and eating a poor diet can increase systemic inflammation by working against the body’s antioxidant defenses. Smoking and drinking create oxidative damage to various cellular processes throughout the body, and when inadequate antioxidant intake is added to this equation, the eczema patient has little defenses against their condition in terms of immune function.

Alternative therapies

Aside from the need for behavioral and lifestyle counseling, eczema patients may greatly benefit from alternative therapies that focus on abnormal inflammatory responses and antioxidant availability. For these reasons, systemic enzymes should be included in an overall regimen against eczema. First, international clinical trials consistently demonstrate that systemic enzymes safely and effectively exert beneficial effects on the immune system. They do so by blocking exaggerated inflammatory responses in multiple points of the inflammatory cascade. Further, systemic enzyme products that contain potent antioxidant sources like rutin and amla can significantly increase the eczema patient’s exogenous antioxidant sources. In other words, patients who aren’t eating foods rich in antioxidants may still reap the benefits if antioxidants are consumed in supplement form with systemic enzymes. Through these dual protective effects, systemic enzymes are not only relevant in eczema treatment, but they are also free of side effects and inexpensive.

The eczema patient should use systemic enzymes in combination with standard eczema pharmaceuticals prescribed by their physician, and in combination with lifestyle and behavioral counseling. Systemic enzymes can assist and work synergistically with a carefully crafted eczema regimen, as it has no drug-drug or drug-nutrient interactions that may place the patient at risk. However, for patients on prescription blood-thinners, the addition of systemic enzymes should be discussed with a physician prior to implementation. Because systemic enzymes work to reduce blood thickness and platelet aggregation, it can create bleeding risks in those who are taking prescription blood-thinners. However, for patients who are not on blood-thinning meds and are interested in exploring all-natural remedies, systemic enzymes are among the most effective and promising routes available.

Grave’s Disease and Implications for Enzyme Treatment

Grave’s disease is classified as an autoimmune condition, causing the thyroid to become overactive (hyperthyroidism). Hyperthyroidism affects several body systems, as the thyroid is a critical part of the immune system, and is responsible for producing important regulatory hormones. However, in patients with Grave’s disease, the thyroid becomes enlarged (sometimes more than twice its normal size), and can cause the heart to race, muscle fatigue, disrupted sleep, and changes in mood. Some of the most commonly affected body systems include the eyes, skin, heart, and nervous systems. While the condition more commonly occurs in women, a small percentage of men are affected. Researchers have identified genetic factors that account for the majority of a patient’s risk in developing Grave’s disease. On the other hand, some lifestyle and environmental factors may secondarily affect one’s risk. For example, exposure to smoke (or second-hand smoke) increases the risk for accompanying eye issues if Grave’s disease does develop.

Grave’s disease is caused when the overactive thyroid secretes an overabundance of metabolic hormones. The thyroid plays a critical role in regulating the body’s metabolism, so when the thyroid secretes too many hormones into circulation, the body’s metabolism works too rapidly – causing symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, and unintended weight loss. The thyroid is normally regulated by a chemical released by the brain’s pituitary gland (thyroid-stimulating hormone; aka TSH), but in Grave’s disease, immune dysfunction completely disrupts this regulation. When the body’s immune system malfunctions in Grave’s disease, the body releases a chemical that mimics TSH. These false signals cause the body to send the thyroid gland into overdrive.

Since the immune system’s malfunction is at the root of the disease, it’s difficult to develop treatments that address this underlying cause. Instead, most treatments address the symptoms of the disease. One of the most commonly treated symptoms involves the eye issues that often accompany Grave’s disease. In many patients, the disease causes inflammation of the eye muscles and surrounding tissues – causing the eyeballs to protrude from the sockets. This condition, known as exophthalmos, is not related to the severity of the condition itself – but can cause problems with vision and obviously, self-esteem. In severe cases of exophthalmos, pressure on the optic nerve from prolonged swelling may even cause blindness. In addition, weakened eye muscles may become unable to produce movement, causing double vision.

As an autoimmune condition that often presents later in life, some researchers believe that the disease is by a viral or bacterial culprit. This is a logical theory, as a viral or bacterial trigger is capable of triggering antibodies that would cross-react with human TSH. Many researchers also blame stress as a trigger in those who are genetically susceptible to developing Grave’s disease; however, clinical trials have yet to identify how stress may cause such a disruption in immune regulation.

Once a patient is diagnosed with Grave’s disease, treatment typically includes antithyroid drugs, which reduce the production and secretion of thyroid hormones. In severe cases, the thyroid may even be removed. Although treatment with antithyroid medications is standard, there are some drawbacks to this treatment method. First, the medications must be administered for six months to two years to be effective. Furthermore, if the antithyroid medications are stopped, the thyroid will likely become overactive again. Antithyroid medications may also cause side effects like rash and peripheral neuritis in many users. In extreme cases, the medications can also cause a potentially fatal reduction in white blood cells. For patients who decide to go with excision of the thyroid, the advantages are immediate, but not without risk. Removing the thyroid can create risks to the nerve that serves the voicebox, scarring, and other potential complications. For these reasons, many patients look to alternative therapies for relief.

The Use of Systemic Enzymes in Graves Disease

Systemic enzymes are a staple in the world of alternative therapies on an international level. Used to safely decrease inflammation throughout the body in hundreds of disease states, systemic enzymes are a great alternative to patients suffering from Grave’s disease. The potential benefits for those suffering from Grave’s disease are two-fold. First, systemic enzymes work within the bloodstream to help regulate circulating immune molecules. When the body is in an inflammatory state, increased inflammatory molecules are present in the bloodstream. These molecules travel to sites like the eyes in Grave’s disease. However, because systemic enzymes help to reduce the levels of several types of inflammatory molecules, the chances that a patient will suffer from inflamed eyes become less likely. Additionally, reducing the amount of inflammatory molecules in circulation helps to beneficially modify the unnecessary immune reaction that underlies Grave’s disease. By reducing inflammation throughout the body, and by helping the body more clearly communicate with the immune system, systemic enzymes should be considered by those with Grave’s disease and fully discussed with the patient’s physician. It’s important to note that unlike antithyroid medications that are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of Grave’s disease, systemic enzymes are low-risk, and have no side effects in those who are not utilizing prescription blood-thinners. Systemic enzymes may be used in combination with standard therapies, as they carry no risk of drug-drug or drug-nutrient interactions.

The Use of Enzyme Therapy in Lysosomal Storage Disorders

What is Lysosomal Storage Disorder?

Lysosomal storage disease refers to a group of more than 50 genetic diseases caused by lysosomal dysfunction. To understand lysosomal storage disease, one must first understand lysosomes and lysosomal function. Lysosomes are sacs of enzymes within cells that are involved with waste recycling. For example, the lysosomes will digest large waste molecules, and then pass them onto other parts of the cell to continue the recycling process. The magic of lysosomal function lies in its many enzymes, which are necessary for the lysosomes to process waste molecules. The enzymes contained in the lysosome sac are hydrolytic enzymes, which break down a variety of biomolecules, including: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and other cellular debris. The lysosomal sac is equipped with more than 50 enzymes to help carry out its functions as a waste disposal system. However, in those with lysosome storage disease, lysosomal dysfunction results from an enzyme deficiency – and this often results in problems with metabolism of lipids, glycoproteins, and mucopolysaccharides. The following diseases are classified as lysosomal storage disorders:

Tay-Sachs: Tay-Sachs is a genetic disorder that leads to deterioration of nerve cells. As a result, physical and mental function also deteriorates. The disease causes the accumulation of cell membrane components called gangliosides within the brain – which causes premature death of brain cells. Although the disease is more common amongst babies and young children, there is an adult/late-onset form of the condition, although it’s often misdiagnosed. Adult-onset Tay-Sachs typically causes symptoms like difficulties with speech and swallowing, cognitive decline, and often secondary psychological conditions like schizophrenia.


Gaucher disease: Gaucher disease leads to the accumulation of molecules known as sphingolipids in various organs, including: the spleen, liver, kidneys, lungs, brain, and bone marrow. These accumulations cause painful swelling, bruising, fatigue, and often leads to enlargement of the liver and spleen. Those with Gaucher disease are deficient in an enzyme that breaks down glucoslyceramide, which leads to the accumulation of waste products.


Pompe disease: Also known as acid maltase deficiency, Pompe disease leads to damage of the muscle and nerve cells caused by accumulation of glycogen. Those with Pompe disease have a deficiency in an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. Glycogen is normally stored in muscles as a source of available energy, but in Pompe disease, too my glycogen causes progressive muscle weakness, and the condition often affects the heart, liver, and nervous system.


How is Lysosomal Storage Disorder Treated?

Although there are no cures for any of the lysosomal storage disorders (LSD), there are some treatments available that effectively address the debilitating symptoms. LSD’s have been treated with bone marrow transplantations in the past, based on the theory that this may provide the patient with a permanent source of the defective enzyme. Although bone marrow transplants were a choice therapy for many years, subsequent studies revealed that it’s difficult to predict the outcomes, and the outcomes often depended upon the type of donor. Later studies suggested that only young children should undergo this type of therapy, which led to new and more innovative treatment strategies. Gene therapy is another suggested route, which is based on the idea of directly transferring normal genes into defective cells. In doing so, active enzymes are supplied, reducing the aggregation of waste of cellular products. Although gene therapy seems promising, researchers explain that additional studies are necessary before it becomes widely implemented. For example, it’s unsure how safe this therapy is, and at what age gene therapy is optimal. Furthermore, many researchers are cautious about possible immunologic reactions with gene transplant therapy.


Why Enzyme Therapy?

Enzyme replacement therapy has been used in all types of LSD’s, and clinical studies suggest that enzyme therapy may help to improve complications with neuropathic pain, renal issues, and myocardial and nerve fiber issues. Although enzyme therapy is often studied as injected, enzyme therapy is now effectively administrated as oral supplementation, and serves the same purposes as injected enzyme replacement therapy. While enzyme therapy is not a cure for LSD’s, it greatly attenuates the long list of symptoms caused by them. In addition, the safety and efficacy of enzyme replacement therapy is well documented in clinical trials from around the world. One of the biggest hurdles that patients often faced was the high cost of enzyme replacement therapy, however, pharmaceutical-grade enzymes are now available as over-the-counter supplements, making the treatment more affordable and accessible. Choosing systemic enzymes that have protective enteric coating ensures that the enzymes reach organs, helping to break down cellular waste products and reduce symptomology. It’s also important to note that complications previously seen in injected forms of enzyme therapy were due mainly to the injections themselves. For example, common complications involved itching and redness at the IV site, and general itching. With orally consumed enzymes, these side effects are no longer at issue.

Seasonal Depression – Biochemical Cause Confirmed

Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a form of depression that’s associated with changes in season. This phenomenon typically begins in the fall and continues into the winter months. Those who are affected by SAD report feeling moody and depleted of energy during winter months. Classified as a subtype of major depression, SAD causes symptoms like loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue. Until recently, the biological cause of SAD was unknown. However, new research from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology has uncovered a biochemical link to SAD.

The study found that those who suffer from winter blues regulate serotonin differently than those who do not suffer from SAD. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has several functions – but is known for contributing to feelings of well being and happiness. Serotonin has considerable effects on mood. In fact, most anti-depressant drugs work by affecting serotonin levels in the brain. The study consisted of 11 people with SAD, and 23 individuals unaffected by SAD. The researchers scanned the participants using positron emission tomography (PET), which produces three-dimensional images of the body. The PET scans revealed significant differences from summer to winter in terms of serotonin transporter (SERT) protein levels. Patients with SAD tend to have higher levels of SERT during winter months, which means serotonin is being removed at higher levels during this time. The serotonin transporter is responsible for carrying serotonin back to the nerve cells when it’s not active. The higher the SERT activity, the lower the serotonin activity.

The researchers believe they’ve discovered the brain dial that’s used when it has to adjust serotonin according to changing seasons. The real reason behind all of this serotonin adjuster is sunlight. Sunlight is directly linked to mood enhancement. Even large-scale studies show that people who live in areas of the world with less sunlight tend to be more depressed. For example, depression levels in Seattle tend to be higher than in sunny cities. Sunlight keeps the SERT activity low, and in turn, serotonin activity is heightened. When nights grow longer in autumn and winter, SERT levels naturally increase, causing serotonin levels in the brain to diminish. While this phenomenon occurs in everyone, only some are negatively impacted in the form of seasonal depression. In those with SAD, researchers explain that this group experiences an increase in SERT activity that remains high throughout the winter. In fact, SAD patients have an average of 5% higher SERT levels in the winter compared to the summer. Healthy participants in the study, however, showed no significant change in SERT activity throughout the seasons. While previous studies have proven the fluctuations in SERT activity in participants with seasonal depression, this study was the first to follow the participants in order to do seasonal comparisons – and it was the first to focus on SERT’s role in seasonal depression. This finding could lead to additional therapies relevant in both the prevention and treatment of seasonal depression, and possibly other types of psychological disorders.

Appearance of Lyme Disease Rash Can Help Predict How Bacteria Spreads Through Body

Lyme disease is a bacterial illness spread by tick bites. The disease is widely known for causing a bull’s eye rash around the infected area, and although it commonly affects the skin, the disease can also affect joints and the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Although Lyme disease is known for its signature rash, not all Lyme disease victims present with the bull’s eye mark. For those who are infected and do not present with the rash, it’s difficult for doctors to detect the disease early on. This can be problematic, especially because antibiotic treatments are most effective in the early stages of the infection. A new study, however, suggests that the signature rash may be more useful than simply aiding in diagnosis. Researchers have developed a mathematical equation that captures the interactions between the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and the patient’s subsequent immune response. The study suggests that the rash may actually indicate the extent to which the infection will spread.

The findings can be found in the Biophysical Journal (published by Cell Press), where the study explains the connection between how the Lyme disease rash looks with the behavior of the bacteria in the body. By creating an equation that accounts for the growth and appearance of the rash, the researchers were able to predict factors of the disease such as densities of the bacteria in relation to the function of time during spreading. In patients with the bull’s eye rash, it seems as though the rash starts as small and uniform. Eventually, the immune system is activated, causing a strong immune reaction at the center of the rash. After approximately one week, the immune system clears most of the bacteria from the center of the rash. However, the immune system is not able to clear all of the bacteria entirely. Bacteria at the edge of the rash spread outward, which activates the immune response away from the edge of the rash. This causes the rash to grow, with the center of it becoming less red and inflamed. After some time, the bacteria returns to the middle of the rash, causing the bull’s eye pattern.

This information may help guide future research regarding how to treat Lyme disease patients. Now that researchers know that bacteria and immune cell populations change as the condition progresses, they are able to predict and track how the bacteria move through the body and how the bacteria and immune system are affected by various therapeutic strategies. The researchers then simulated the progression of various rash types during antibiotic treatment courses, and found that all rash types indicate that bacteria is cleared from the skin in roughly one week. However, the dynamics of rash disappearance varied depending on the type of rash. Bull’s eye rashes resolved after about one week of antibiotic treatment, while uniform rashes lasted around four weeks. The researchers believe that this discrepancy is due to inflammation, as uniform rashes are often more inflammatory. This also suggests that treatments should be altered depending on the type of rash the patient presents with.