"Neutriceuticals - 3"

November 6, 2002

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    Turmeric--the mouth-warming ingredient of curry sauce--is being tipped as a treatment for Alzheimer's Disease and for radiation burns: Curry 'may treat radiation burns'  - BBC
, Curry 'may slow Alzheimer's'  - BBC. Curcumin is the active chemical in turmeric. Feeding Alzheimer's patients turmeric reduced the numbers of amyloid plaque in their brains by 50%. Feeding turmeric to aged rats also permitted them to outperform  Turmeric also aids digestion, fights infection, and guards against heart attacks. "It is now being investigated for the treatment of colon cancer and Alzheimer's disease as well as burns. Dr Richard Harvey, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Curcumin has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 'Drugs with similar properties could potentially be used as preventative treatments for Alzheimer's disease.' However, Dr Harvey warned that it could be many years before such drugs were made widely available".

Problems with reward systems
    This underscores a major problem with Western medicine:  the fact that pharmaceutical companies can't make money with unpatentable, natural remedies. And this brings us to a broader, deeper subject: that of reward systems in general. It seems to me that little or no attention is paid to designing and testing reward systems to produce desired results. For example, we pay our national legislators, our Supreme Court Justices, and our chief executives fewer dollars than we pay a sizable number of our 300,000+ M. D.'s and our 300,000+ dentists. Evidently, we think that our 300,000+ M. D.'s and our 300,000+ dentists are more important to our country's future than our 600 top governors. As a result, our governors have found ways to pay themselves more equitably at terrible cost to the voters whom they nominally serve. When the United States was young, the amounts of money that our Washington representatives handled was commensurate with the size of our fledging country. Today, the United States is one of, if not the wealthiest country on earth, while average per capita wealth has soared beyond the wildest dreams of the 18th century. We desperately need a reward system that reimburses our highest government officials in accordance with our affluence, while at the same time, curbing clandestine remuneration through PACs.
    You don't suppose that the United States government is for sale to the highest bidder, do you?

    Telomerase research seems to have shifted to its potential application to cancer treatments. Since, unlike somatic cells, cancer cells achieve immortality by expressing telomerase, telomerase blockers will cause cancer cells to age, and eventually, to die. Accordingly, a lot of money is being invested in research into telomerase blockers. Dr. Perricone's timetable for telomerase availability, published in 2000, may have been predicated upon the idea that telomerase would be brought to market as soon as possible. But I haven't been able to find any discussions of the administration of telomerase to mice or to fruitflies to see what it does for their lifespans or their cancer incidences.
    For some reason, the fact that cancer cells express telomerase led some early researchers to suggest that perhaps telomerase would cause cancer if introduced into differentiated cells. Why that might be I'm not sure. Since cancer cells produce telomerase in profusion, it would seem to me as though cancer cells would be unaffected by telomerase, since they're already steeped in it. However, biological interactions are wickedly complex. I don't yet know enough to be dangerous. Human skin which has had its telomerase gene activated shows no signs of aging, nor has it developed cancer [The Wrinkle Cure- Unlock the Power of Cosmeceuticals for Supple, Youthful Skin, Nicholas Perricone, M. D., Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Yale University Medical School, Warner Books, 2000, pg. 186.]

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