Chronic Diseases May Result from Metabolic Dysfunction

Chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are very common. More than half of adults and 1/3 of children and teens in the U.S have at least one chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes of chronic diseases are hard to determine, and majority of the diseases are difficult to be cured.

A new study puts forward a hypothesis that chronic disease occurs when people’s natural healing cycle is blocked, especially when it’s blocked by metabolic and cellular disruptions. This study provides a new idea about preventing chronic disease, and it may boost the development of new treatments.

The study is now available online in Mitochondrion in advance of publication and led by Robert K. Naviaux, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

Naviaux said: “The healing process is a dynamic circle that starts with injury and ends with recovery. The molecular features of this process are universal. Emerging evidence shows that most chronic illnesses are caused by the biological reaction to an injury, not the initial injury or the agent of the injury. The illness occurs because the body is unable to complete the healing process.”

He continued: “Chronic disease results when cells are caught in a repeating loop of incomplete recovery and re-injury, unable to fully heal. This biology is at the root of virtually every chronic illness known, including susceptibility to recurrent infections, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic heart and kidney disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, cancer and autism spectrum disorder.”

Naviaux suggests old approaches of chronic disease can only ease symptoms temporarily, but preventions and new treatments may help some patients recover completely.

“The idea would be to direct treatments at the underlying processes that block the healing cycle,” he said. “New treatments might only be given for a short period of time to promote healing, not unlike applying a cast to promote the healing of a broken leg. When the cast is removed, the limb is weak, but over time, muscles recover and bone that was once broken may actually be stronger.”

He added: “Once the triggers of a chronic injury have been identified and removed, and on-going symptoms treated, we need to think about fixing the underlying issue of impaired healing. By shifting the focus away from the initial causes to the metabolic factors and signaling pathways that maintain chronic illness, we can find new ways to not only end chronic illness but prevent it.”

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.