Aging, Pyridoxamine And Big Business

Last modified on September 29th, 2009

Most people probably wouldn’t look at aging like one, but aging is actually fairly similar to a disease, one that ultimately catches up with everyone. There’s no real smoking gun with regards to what causes us to age, but there are a few culprits:

  • Every normal cell has within it an ultimate limit on the number of times the cell can divide before dying. This limit is known as the Hayflick Limit, and ultimately determines when cells in the body die. It is believed that this limit is a direct result of the influence of the enzyme telomerase whichs repairs the end of DNA segments. In most cells it’s turned off, meaning that the bits on the end of each DNA sequence are split in half when the cell divides. Eventually those ends fray, similarly to the ends of shoe laces, and the DNA breaks down, causing the cells to die. Telomerase can actually be activated in cells, and is often activated in cancer cells, making them effectively immortal
  • Proteins in the body react with sugar, forming what are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These cross-linked proteins cause all kinds of problems, and are primarily responsible for the degradation in skin elasticity over time, including the elasticity of muscles such as the heart

With regards to the second item, there is a lot of research currently going on into a class of drugs known as AGE breakers. These drugs can actually undo the cross linking, which possibly might extending the human lifespan, or at least, help ward off health problems a bit longer. Initial research shows things like blood pressure drastically improving while using AGE breakers.

Coincidentally, one of the most potent inhibitors of AGEs is actually a form of vitamin B6 known as Pyridoxamine. It used to be readily available in the form of a herbal supplement. But wouldn’t you know it, big business has decided to intervene:

in the United States, the FDA ruled in January 2009 that pyridoxamine must be regulated as a pharmaceutical drug because it is the active ingredient in Pyridorin, a drug designed to prevent the progression of diabetic nephropathy. As a consequence, pyridoxamine can no longer be marketed in the United States as a dietary supplement.

That is, because it has the potential to be a revolutionary drug, both for heart disease and diabetes, the FDA has decided it shouldn’t be sold as a low cost supplement anymore. So, if you want it, you’ll probably have to pay through the teeth for it. Score another one for big business.

One response to “Aging, Pyridoxamine And Big Business”

  1. Lyndsey says:

    Aaaahhh, this post brings back memories of genetics and biochemistry, etc.

    Just to add a bit here, telomeres “cap” chromosomes to protect the ends of DNA in order to prevent the chromosomes from fusing-> which can lead to mutations, which lead to cancer (immortal cells/ongoing division).

    In concurrence with your statement, as cells divide throughout our lifetime, their telomeres are naturally consumed during the process, and this shortening can induce replicative senescence- whereby the somatic cell seizes to divide (because of lack of genetic information to be transcribed from the tip), then autolyses. … Read More

    Senescence then, plays a huge role in preventing cell proliferation, which may then prevent cancer cells from forming. That is to say, one can expect a higher chance of genomic instability (mutations, deletions, rearrangements, etc.) as the number of cell divisions increases. By preventing immortal proliferation of somatic cells, cells would just age and die, at a natural rate and cancer would then be less prevalent within the population.

    (*Important to note that telomere shortening my be a consequence of aging and not the cause of it!! It is the rate in which this process (senescence) occurs that seems to be more likely cause for aging.

    So there is a trade-off, so to speak when it comes to aging:

    1. It has been theorized that using gene therapies to activate telomerase in specific genes could slow the aging process and lengthen chronological age. This is because by adding additional DNA sequences to the (3′) end of telomeric regions- you essentially allow the cell to go on living longer (b/c it can continue to divide).


    2. Allowing such an increase in number of divisions also promotes cell instability and therefore makes us more vulnerable to cancer.

    Last thought: From what I understand, these cross-linked proteins (AGEs) that you mentioned have been attributed to free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules that attached itself to a protein, which in turn can not function properly), a by product of normal cell function.

    I mean, there isn’t of much you can do to prevent the natural progression of aging, except:
    1. Protect yourself (esp your skin) from UV rays (to prevent DNA damage/mutations that lead to cancer/uncontrolled proliferation of cells by way of telmoerases),
    2. Keep the amount of sugar in your diet moderate, and
    3. Bolster your intake of anti-oxidants and vitamins like B6.

    Common sense is a commodity right?

    Sad because one of my favorite things is caramelized onions, with wild mushrooms on brie (Served with rustic bread). I try to stay away from anything with a high glycemic index or anything that will eventually lead to high blood glucose after chemical conversion.

    So drink up all that red wine you have and find natural sources rich in B6/pyridoxamine (turkey, tuna, other fishes and beef)and other B vits.

    Who needs a supplement when there is a plethora of good and nourishing things out there?

    If the FDA actually finds a way to put such controls on this, everyone from the States is going to start buying the supplement online from Europe and Canada, or somewhere that it isn’t regulated.

    Fuck big business.

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