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Exercise. Yeah I know. Do you really want to hear about another way exercise is good for you? Well, this appears to be a slightly new take. It’s about how nitric oxide (NO), a short-lived gas produced by the body during exercise, benefits the heart.
A recent study published in the journal, Circulation Research, says that voluntary exercise (as opposed, I guess, to sitting in some machine that moves your body for you) produces nitric oxide which then “turns on chemical pathways that relax blood vessels to increase blood flow and activate survival pathways [emphasis mine].” Exercise was found to boost “levels of an enzyme that produces nitric oxide (eNOS, endothelial nitric oxide synthase).”
So in short, you choose to exercise. Your body produces NO, then the NO is “stored in the bloodstream and heart in the form of nitrite and nitrosothiols,” which are then withdrawn from storage as needed. And even cooler, these reserves remain elevated for a week after exercise has stopped—“unlike other heart enzymes stimulated by exercise”—and don’t return to baseline until four whole weeks after exercise. So it seems we get a lot for a little effort.
I once had a book called Dr. Naglier’s Body Maintenance and Repair Book. He said, emphatically, that even five minutes of movement a day is so much better for your body than nothing, that you should never not do anything because you’re afraid you couldn’t possibly do all the exercise “they” recommend.
Score another big one for nitric oxide. It’s truly a health friend, and it doesn’t take much to put it to work for you.
If we needed any further proof of how far-reaching the effects of stem cell research can be on making medicine not only less invasive but also more efficient and effective, now comes another momentous discovery.
According to a BusinessWeek article, a couple of pharma companies have developed a way to use stem cells to develop “human” tissue (independent of a living, breathing person), and they’re using the tissue to test drugs for potentially dangerous side effects.
The cost to develop a new drug—which can in some cases exceed $4 billion—usually includes animal trials and then human trials. Researchers have found that stem-cell-generated tissue—they are regularly producing 7 billion heart cells a month from skin and blood stem cells (not embryonic)—mimics the reactions of actual human tissue. And that allows scientists to test drugs for bad effects long before human trials would normally be scheduled.
The happiest part of this report is that this isn’t just the promise of stem cells—this work is actually going on now. One of the pharma companies used the stem-cell tissue to re-test a drug they’d worked on earlier and discarded because of a bad side effect on test animals. They found the drug had exactly the same results on the stem-cell tissue as it had had on the animals. The company realized if it had had this capability back then, it could have stopped development much sooner and saved a bundle.
Consider the potential benefits of making full use of this capability:
- How much faster might useful drugs get through the pipeline and out to the patients who desperately need them?
- How much might the cost of new drugs come down with pharmaceutical companies saving millions of dollars in development costs?
- How many animal lives might be spared because research can be done on this “artificial” tissue instead of on rabbits or mice or chimps?
I say again, with stem cell miracles around every corner, we’ve at last discovered heaven’s own way of healing. And what we do with that power now and in the future will be limited only by our own imaginations .