SCIENCE IS A BIT LIKE SPORTS: THE CREDIT GOES TO THE ONES WHO WERE FIRST
(To view the publications, go to www.pubmed.com, search for "pubmed" and enter the 7 digit numbers given below.
1981/1988: Gustavo Bounous and colleagues were the first to discover the effect of a whey protein on the immune system.
J. Infect Dis. 1981 Sept;144:281. Pubmed PMID:7024433
Influence of dietary lactalbumin hydrolysate on the immune system of mice and resistance to salmonellosis.
Bounous G, Stevenson MM, Kongshavn PA.
Clin Invest Med. 1988 Aug;11:271-8. Pubmed PMID:3168349
The immunoenhancing property of dietary whey protein concentrate.
Bounous G, Kongshavn PA, Gold P.
“The plaque-forming cell response to sheep red blood cells was found to be enhanced in mice fed a formula diet containing 20g lactalbumin/100 g diet”. (The humoral immune response eliminates bacteria in the body).
1986: Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to discover the effect of glutathione on the immune system in a living organism.
Immunobiology. 1986 Aug;172:151-6. Pubmed PMID:3490430
Glutathione augments the activation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in vivo.
Dröge W, Pottmeyer-Gerber C, Schmidt H, Nick S.
“The activation of T lymphocytes in vivo was found to be augmented by glutathione”. (Cytotoxic T cells eliminate virus-infected cells in the body, and T cells help B cells to produce a humoral immune response).
1989: Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to discover that HIV-infected patients have abnormally low cysteine and glutathione levels.
Biol Chem Hoppe Seyler. 1989 Feb;370:101-8. Pubmed PMID: 2784973
Low concentrations of acid-soluble thiol (cysteine) in the blood plasma of HIV-1 infected patients.
Eck HP, Gmünder H, Hartmann M, Petzoldt D, Daniel V, Dröge W.
“Blood plasma from HIV-1-infected persons contains decreased cysteine concentrations. The intracellular glutathione concentration in peripheral blood-mononuclear cells (PBMC) and monocytes from HIV positive persons are also significantly decreased”.
1989: Gustavo Bounous and colleagues were the first to discover that glutathione plays a role in the effect of whey protein on the immune system.
Clin Invest Med. 1989 June;12:154-61. Pubmed PMID:2743633
Immunoenhancing property of dietary whey protein in mice: role of glutathione.
Bounous G, Batist G, Gold P.
“Enhancement of host humoral immune response is associated with sustained production of splenic glutathione in whey protein fed mice”.
1998: Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to discover the age-related decrease in the plasma concentration of cysteine, the limiting precursor of glutathione.
Blood. 1998 July; 92:59-67. Pubmed PMID: 9639500
The Redox State as a Correlate of Senescence and Wasting and as a Target for Therapeutic Intervention
Hack V, Breitkreutz R, Kinscherf R, Rörer H, Bartsch P, Taut F, Benner A and Dröge W.
“Our study showed a decrease in the plasma thiol level indicative of an age-dependent shift to a more oxidized condition”.
2008: Gustavo Bounous & Wulf Dröge and colleagues were the first to show in a placebo controlled clinical trial the health benefits of an undenatured whey protein isolate in cancer patients.
Antiox. & Redox Signaling. 2008. Feb;10:395-402. PMID:18158761.
Cysteine-Rich Protein Reverses Weight Loss in Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy
Tozer RG, Tai P, Falconer W, Ducruet T, Karabadjian A, Bounous G, Molson JH, Dröge W.
“The patients treated with the cysteine-rich protein had a mean increase of 2.5% body weight, whereas casein-treated patients lost 2.6%”.
At the beginning of the 70’s, under the direction of Dr. Gustavo Bounous, MD, (FRCSC), a team of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University (Canada), was studying proteins of animal and vegetable origins in order to feed the patients with an elemental diet that would allow them to reduce their stay in hospital. Since 1978, their studies had been focusing on whey proteins. This work led to the surprising discovery that a specific undenatured whey protein concentrate helped to sustain optimal glutathione levels, high immunological reactivity and anticarcinogenic activity. Subsequent identification of the active ingredients present in this protein mixture led in 1993 to the production of a high-quality bioactive protein that was given the name Immunocal.
This research was supported by the Medical Research Council of Canada and the National Institutes of Health in the United States. The observed effects of Immunocal which have been discovered at McGill University have been validated by numerous independent research centers worldwide, notable in Germany, Japan, Australia, France, United States and in Nova Scotia (Canada).
The gold standard for clinical evidence for efficacy is a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Immunotec’s present research activities therefore focus on controlled clinical trials in cooperation with various clinical partners in Montreal and other clinical centers in Canada and the U.S.A. The recently published study on the effects of a research formulation of Immunocal on lung cancer patients (Tozer et al. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 10:2, 395-402, 2008) is an example. This trial has shown quite impressive results with regard to the health benefits of this Immunocal formulation in the nutrition of seriously ill advanced lung cancer patients. Other clinical studies showing the efficacy of Immunocal have been performed and published by several clinical centers.
Immunocal contains several different proteins with special structural and functional properties which collectively provide a combination of important health benefits.
The name Immunocal refers to its effect on immune functions. The claim stating that Immunocal is effective in maintaining a strong immune system has been officially approved by Health Canada. Most people know that modern medicine is still relatively helpless in the face of viral epidemics such as HIV, SARS or the flu virus. In the time of globalization and increasing international travel activities it is only a question of time that a new epidemic will spread around the globe and eventually reach North America. Moreover, irrespective of these global threats, each of us is confronted with a constant barrage of colds and flus. The decisive question is whether the first encountered viruses will be eliminated by our immune system or stay and manifest themselves as a disease. This decisively depends on the strength of our immune system regardless of whether this moment is any time soon or in the more distant future. Someone who is taking Immunocal every day is best prepared for this moment.
The effect of Immunocal on the immune system is mainly mediated by its high cysteine content. Cysteine is the limiting precursor for glutathione, which plays a key role in the function of the immune system. Most notably it plays a critical role in the proliferation of lymphocytes, i.e. the cells that mediate specific immune responses. Cysteine and glutathione concentrations show a strong and progressive age-related decline which starts at the age of 30. Older people are therefore more likely to feel the benefits of taking Immunocal. Healthy young adults have usually adequate levels of cysteine and glutathione for most of the time but occasionally experience episodes of low glutathione levels. These episodes are possibly caused by unnoticed, symptomless viral infection and render even these otherwise strong persons vulnerable towards subsequent infections as their low glutathione level compromises the immune system. Healthy young adults thus typically realize the benefits of taking Immunocal only after longer periods of time.
By supporting glutathione biosynthesis Immunocal enhances also the detoxifying function in the body. Without noticing it we are constantly exposed to environmental toxins such as heavy metals in low quality foods, in the increasingly polluted air which we breathe or in the water that we drink. The body is therefore constantly engaged in the important task of eliminating such toxins. One of the most important detoxifying mechanisms involves glutathione which binds to certain toxins and forms a water-soluble complex that is ultimately excreted in the urine or bile as waste. In extreme cases such as in the case of poisoning by excessive doses of certain medicals drugs this process severely depletes the glutathione levels in the liver and can lead to life-threatening conditions. These patients are typically treated and rescued by a glutathione-promoting drug to replenish the glutathione pool and to detoxify the victim.
Glutathione is best known for its antioxidant function which indirectly is also enhanced by Immunocal. At all times living organisms are internally generating oxygen radicals and hydrogen peroxide, both of which cause massive oxidative tissue damage and other forms of oxidative stress unless neutralized by glutathione. By scavenging oxygen radicals and hydrogen peroxide, glutathione normally controls the oxidative stress and protects the structural constituents of the cells against the damaging effects of these molecules. Without glutathione the cells would rapidly be destroyed. Other antioxidants, such as vitamin A, vitamin C or vitamin E have also a protecting function but glutathione is by far the most abundant antioxidant in cells and tissues. Insufficient amounts of glutathione can therefore not be compensated by these antioxidant vitamins.
The age-related decrease in glutathione plays, therefore, an important role in aging and oxidative stress-related disease conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Several independent studies in animals have shown that cysteine supplementation causes a decrease in protein oxidation and reverses the age-related decline in various biochemical functions. As the cognitive decline is one of the most devastating consequences of aging, it was particularly interesting to see that cysteine supplementation reduces the rate of oxidative structural damage in the brain and ameliorates the decline of memory functions in animals.
Glutathione is clearly the most important antioxidant in the body and has been the object of intense research during the last 30 years. Presently, more than 80,000 scientific articles on glutathione are listed on Pub Med (www.pubmed.gov) and this number is increased by approximately 3-5,000 new articles every year. Glutathione consists of the three amino acids, glutamate, cysteine and glycine and is synthesized from these precursors within the cells and tissues. The production of glutathione is typically limited by the availability of cysteine. The sulfidryl (thiol) group of cysteine serves as an electron donor and is responsible for the biological activity of glutathione. However, taking supplements of the free amino acid cysteine is not advisable because cysteine is oxidized on the shelf and in the digestive tract. In order to raise the cellular glutathione level, it is far better to use a supplement with “stabilized” cysteine residues such as Immunocal.
The effect on muscle functions is another important health benefit from regular consumption of Immunocal. Due to its special composition and structural properties, Immunocal can help to ameliorate the loss of skeletal muscle mass and muscle function which is one of the hallmarks of aging. This process is called sarcopenia which starts in the fourth decade of life and accelerates as we age. As the loss of muscle mass is associated with the loss of muscle function, it increases the risk of falls and fractures, compromises the ability to visit friends or to maintain other social functions, and ultimately contributes to the loss of quality of life in old age. As skeletal muscle tissues represent about half of the protein mass in the human body, the loss of muscle mass means above all a net loss of protein. Physical exercise, notably resistance training, is the best investigated method shown to increase muscle mass and muscle function even in elderly persons. This effect of physical exercise can be strongly enhanced by Immunocal. The undenatured cysteine- and leucine-rich whey protein was found to be more effective than casein or soy protein, and is therefore the ideal dietary protein source to support the maintenance of skeletal muscle mass and muscle function. Immunocal consists of a combination of several proteins which are rapidly digested and therefore lead to a rapid increase of its constituent amino acids in the blood plasma with a peak at about two hours after protein consumption. The most important amino acids for the enhancement of muscle functions in the elderly are leucine and cysteine which are contained in Immunocal in relatively high amounts. Ideally, Immunocal should therefore be consumed immediately after physical exercise because the maximum availability of the amino acids in the blood coincides in this case with the time window of maximum exercise induced skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Ideally, a person of 80 kg body weight should consume about 10g-30g Immunocal after exercise. An additional small amount of Immunocal (e.g. 10g) may be consumed in the morning to account for the relatively low plasma cysteine and intracellular glutathione levels at the end of the night. The rest of the daily protein intake may be distributed over the day.
Most of the clinical studies and complementary animal studies on the effects of cysteine supplementation on oxidative stress, muscle functions, and immunological functions have been performed with another cysteine derivative, N-acetylcysteine, because this agent allows the investigator to identify cysteine as the causative agent. However, if an amount of 10-30g leucine- and cysteine-rich Immunocal per 80 kg body weight per day is regularly used to improve muscle protein synthesis and muscle function, this is also sufficient to meet the increased need for cysteine to ameliorate the age-related oxidative stress and to maintain a strong immune system. Any additional consumption of N-acetylcysteine or Alpha-lipoic acid as complementary supplements may not only be unnecessary, but also disadvantageous. N-acetylcysteine, for example, can cause certain adverse effects. Moreover, oral consumption of N-acetylcysteine typically leads to a relatively high temporary increase in cysteine/N-acetylcysteine concentrations in the blood, a large proportion of which is converted within the oxidative environment of the blood into the corresponding disulfide which is essentially useless for cells and tissues, and a substantial proportion is simply catabolized and converted into metabolic acids. Alpha-lipoic acid has the unique property of travelling through lipid membranes and is therefore capable of shuttling oxidative and reducing equivalents across membranes. It is contained in moderate amounts in most cells and tissues and plays an important physiological role in this context. If present at relatively higher concentrations, it shuttles oxidative equivalents from the oxidative environment of the blood into the cells and tissues and thereby effectively acts as an oxidant for cells rather than an antioxidant.
Taken together, Immunocal helps the body to defend itself against several common health hazards which are becoming increasingly important as one gets older. Immunocal does this by strengthening four key functions which may be easily remembered by the four letters:
A – FOR ANTIOXIDANT DEFENSE
I – FOR IMMUNE FUNCTIONS
D – FOR DETOXIFICATION
M – FOR MUSCLE FUNCTION
Important New Research using Immunocal® Shows Promise in Lou Gehrig’s Disease
A non-denatured whey protein supplement (Immunocal®) protects neurons from mitochondrial oxidative stress and delays disease onset in the mutant SOD1 mouse model of ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neuromuscular disease caused by the death of spinal and cortical motor neurons and retraction of motor axons from the neuromuscular junctions. Mitochondrial oxidative stress (MOS) appears to be a major factor contributing to motor neuron death in ALS and therefore, novel agents targeting MOS could provide effective therapies for this debilitating disease. We have investigated a unique, non-denatured whey protein supplement (Immunocal®) that contains high concentrations of cystine, a precursor for the synthesis of glutathione (GSH).
Raising Glutathione Using Cysteine
In Search of the Best Strategy for Cysteine Supplementation
Enhancement of glutathione levels through cysteine supplementation has proven and important health benefits. But consumers have questions about the best available source of cysteine. Immunotec provides the answer.
A series of clinical studies and complementary laboratory experiments has shown that aging is associated with a progressive decrease in plasma cysteine and intracellular glutathione concentrations.
This decrease leads to (and can be viewed as a manifestation of) age-related oxidative stress. Cysteine and glutathione concentrations are particularly low during the night and early morning hours, i.e. during periods of starvation.
Changing the Aging Paradigm
Most people consider the process of aging and death as an integral part of their life, but two key scientific findings have changed our concept of aging dramatically... Most people consider the process of aging and death as an integral part of their life, but two key scientific findings have changed our concept of aging dramatically...
The first important finding dates back to 1954 when “free radicals”, i.e. a highly aggressive type of small chemical molecules, were first discovered in living tissues. In view of the chemically aggressive nature of free radicals, Dr. Denham Harman proposed in 1954 that aging may be — at least to a large extent — the consequence of free-radical-inflicted tissue damage.
Glutathione in Health and Disease
Glutathione (g-glutamylcysteinylglycine, GSH) is a water-soluble tripeptide composed of the amino acids glutamate, cysteine, and glycine.
Present in all mammalian cells, it is widely distributed throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, underscoring its fundamental biological significance.
GSH is an endogenous antioxidant of great importance, as well as being a detoxicant of exogenous and endogenous toxic compounds. In addition, it plays a vital role in....