How vitamin B may help fight vision loss, brain cancer, and COVID-19

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The B-group vitamins are a collection of 8 water-soluble vitamins essential for various metabolic processes.

Most of these vitamins can’t be stored by the body and must be consumed regularly in the diet.

The B-group vitamins are needed to help the body to use the energy-yielding nutrients (such as carbs, fat, and protein) for fuel. Other B-group vitamins are important to help cells to multiply by making new DNA.

Recent studies have found that vitamin B could help fight blinding eye diseases.

In a study from Eye Research Australia, researchers found that vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) could play an important role in protecting against nerve cell damage that leads to blindness in glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness, affecting more than 60 million people worldwide.

The disease, which leads to vision loss when cells in the optic nerve and retina are lost, is usually treated with eye drops or surgery to reduce eye pressure.

The researchers followed 57 patients, all of whom received both placebo and vitamin B3 over the course of the study.

They found a big improvement in the visual function of glaucoma patients who received a daily high dose of 3 grams of nicotinamide for 12 weeks in addition to their regular treatment to reduce eye pressure.

The team says as a safe therapy that is well tolerated by patients, vitamin B3 has the potential as a clinical supplement to support patients who are receiving glaucoma treatment.

The study was published in Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology and conducted by Professor Jonathan Crowston et al.

In another study at Mount Sinai, researchers found that vitamin B3 can inhibit aggressive cell transformations during wound healing and may be key to the development of therapies to treat fibrotic eye diseases that impair vision.

The eye condition can be triggered by aging, diabetes, or injury to the eye.

The researchers found that nicotinamide not only inhibits these cell transformations but can also reverse that cell transition and slow down the development of eye diseases that may lead to vision loss or blindness.

When applying nicotinamide as a therapy to human adult cells in vitro, they found that the vitamin B derivative slowed down the aggressive cellular transformation and could promote the opposite transition, from mesenchymal to epithelial, helping to preserve the cell’s original identity.

This is the first study that shows how nicotinamide can inhibit invasive wound healing, but also reverse the development of membranes associated with scar tissue.

This discovery helps evolve the understanding of wound healing, as well as good inflammation versus bad inflammation.

The findings were published in Stem Cell Reports and conducted by Timothy Blenkinsop et al.

Recent research also has shown that vitamin B3 could help fight brain cancer.

In a study at the University of Calgary, researchers found vitamin B3, combined with chemotherapy can help immune cells attack glioblastoma (a type of brain tumor), which may dramatically slow the progression of the disease.

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Even with treatment, chemotherapy, and radiation, most people die within 14 to 16 months of being diagnosed.

One of the reasons this cancer is so deadly is because it hijacks the immune system, suppressing it and reprogramming immune cells to work for the tumor.

In the study, the team targeted the immune system to help the body to attack and destroy the tumor stem cells.

They screened 1,040 compounds and found niacin had the properties needed to activate immune cells, specifically myeloid cells, and inhibit the growth of brain tumor-initiating stem cells.

They found that niacin (vitamin B3) therapy alone extended survival and that the combination therapy with temozolomide (a chemotherapy drug commonly used against glioblastoma) markedly prolonged survival by stimulating and re-educating immune cells to stop helping cancer and instead, destroy it.

The lifespan of mice with glioblastoma that received combination therapy tripled, increasing to 150 days from 40 days.

The team hopes to conduct a clinical trial first, even though this treatment involves two well-known, existing therapies.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine and conducted by Dr. Wee Yong et al.

Can vitamin B help fight against COVID-19?

A recent study at Hiroshima University in Japan suggests that vitamin B6 may be key to a robust response against COVID-19. They found the potential of vitamin B6 in lowering the odds of cytokine storms.

Studies have so far explored the benefits of vitamins D and C and minerals like zinc and magnesium in fortifying immune response against COVID-19. But research on vitamin B6 has been mostly missing.

In the study, the team found evidence that vitamin B6 exerts a protective effect against heart diseases and diabetes by suppressing inflammation, inflammasomes, oxidative stress and carbonyl stress.

Coronaviruses and influenza are among the viruses that can cause lethal lung injuries and death from acute respiratory distress syndrome worldwide.

Viral infections evoke a cytokine storm, leading to lung capillary endothelial cell inflammation, neutrophil infiltration, and increased oxidative stress.

The team explained that thrombosis (blood clotting) and cytokine storm (hyper inflammation) are closely linked to the severity of COVID-19.

Vitamin B6 is a known anti-thrombosis and anti-inflammation nutrient. Deficiency in this vitamin is also linked to lower immune function and higher susceptibility to viral infections.

The team says vitamin B6 has a close link with the immune system. Its levels always drop in people under chronic inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The paper was published in Frontiers in Nutrition and conducted by Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee et al.

Another study at Colorado State University showed that exposing the coronavirus to riboflavin (vitamin B2) and ultraviolet light reduces pathogens in human plasma and whole-blood products.

In the study, the team tackled one of the big questions about the novel coronavirus: If the pathogen can spread through blood or by donating blood, would it be possible to kill the virus?

The research team used the Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology System to treat nine plasma and three whole-blood products for the study.

The blood product or plasma is placed in a specially designed storage bag, riboflavin solution is added, and the mixture is then exposed to UV light.

The Mirasol PRT device gently shakes the bag to circulate the blood cells, so the cells come to the surface where they are exposed to UV light.

The researchers caution that this is not an experiment to try at home. The light does not penetrate the entire bag, so it’s not the same as exposing body parts to UV light.

The study was published in PLOS ONE and conducted by Dr. Izabela Ragan et al.

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