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Sr. Executive / Executive, Production; THE IBN SINA PHARMACEUTICAL IND LTD

 Nutritional Support: An effective way of arsenic detoxification for patients having arsenicosis..
Update: 2012-01-15
Arsenicosis is defined as a chronic health condition arising from prolonged ingestion of arsenic above the safe dose for at least six months, usually manifested by characteristic skin lesions of melanosis and keratosis, occurring alone or in combination, with or without the involvement of internal organs.

Arsenic toxicity results from absorption of trivalent and prevalent inorganic arsenic. After absorption, inorganic arsenic accumulates in the liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. It is then rapidly cleared from these sites but leaves a residue in keratin-rich tissues such as skin, hair, and nails. Arsenite (+5) undergoes biomethylation in the liver to the less toxic metabolites methylarsenic acid and dimethylarsenic acid. This process requires the biothiol glutathione, which can be depleted with patients suffering from arsenicosis.

The arsenic poisoning of drinking water in Bangladesh is the largest poisoning in history according to WHO. More than 100 million people are exposed to unsafe levels or arsenic and millions are already afflicted by poisoning. Seemingly perfect well water from millions of wells that have been bored during the last decades contains natural arsenic from the ground. According to a recent report in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization [2000;78(9):1093-1103], Bangladesh has the largest arsenic contamination in groundwater in history. More than half of the population of Bangladesh may be at risk of arsenic poisoning from contaminated drinking-water. The potential severity of the problem is estimated to be greater than that from the chemical accident at Bhopal, India, in 1984 and the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986.

The arsenic hazard in Bangladesh now appeared as a ‘real disaster', affecting thousands physically, physiologically, mentally and economically; it is intensifying malnutrition, poverty and destitution among the already poor villagers. The futures of the Bangladesh villages are jeopardized (Prof. I. Zuberi, Rajshai University, Bangladesh, 06. 07. 03). Arsenic contaminated underground water is one such severe problem which the government has failed to manage properly. Five years after the approval of National Policy for Arsenic Mitigation and Implementation Plan, two lakh people still face the threat of cancer annually due to drinking of arsenic contaminated water in Bangladesh, says a report of World Health Organization (WHO) (Daily Star, Nov. 13, 2009). UNICEF has come out with some dismal findings with regard to Bangladesh on the occasion of a high-level meeting. The successive governments failed to respond to the crisis with the promptitude the situation had called for Arsenic is a ticking time bomb.(New Age, April 26, 2010).

The arsenic lodges in the organs and breaks down the immune system. The sufferer is progressively afflicted with carcinoma, blindness, renal failure, diabetes and cancer. A healthy and nutritious life-style may postpone or entirely counteract the arsenic affliction, but the marginalized people are the only sufferers. Until now there has been no cure for this pandemic and there have been no appropriate ways of removing the arsenic from the water.

As, the farmers and villagers have the food habit with low protein-containing diet; development of their body’s own mechanism of arsenic detoxification pathway is reduced from its capacity.

An important research outcome from Viola Vitalis (Bangladesh) together with Allium vitalis (Berkely, USA) was nutrient based formulation for Arsenicosis management. This formulation was developed on the intention of improving body’s own pathway of arsenic detoxification for peoples who suffers deficiency of elements responsible for development of arsenic detoxification pathway. The tripeptide glutathione is the core element of intracellular detoxification of inorganic arsenic. Arsenic consumed by drinking water is absorbed in body and processed in inorganic toxic radicals which can destroy the thiol groups of larger important proteins in the cell. By bonding with these thiol groups of protein, arsenic destroys protein’s tertiary structure. Destruction of protein’s normal structure and activity causes tissue damage, weakening of body and symptoms of arsenicosis. Glutathione resists the bonding of toxic inorganic radicals of arsenic with important proteins inside the cell. Glutathione itself make bonding with toxic inorganic radicals of arsenic and makes it organic molecule by methylation. This organic arsenic molecule is capable of rapid excretion from body; where in absence of enough glutathione inside cell the inorganic arsenics could damage protein structures repeatedly and produce toxic elements.

The nutritional support theme was developed by the long time clinical research of Viola Vitalis in the objective of improving glutathione synthesis inside the cell. Two amino acids (glutamic acid and glycine) of the tri-peptide are available in body because of capability of storing. But the rest amino acid (cystine) is barely available inside the cell to take part on glutathione synthesis. The cause of absence of cystine inside the cell is because its property of destroying in low temperature during cooking process. Another cause is – complex process of absorption into cell. The nutritional formulation by ViolaVitalis contains the source of cystine and allyl mercaptan which facilitates the cystine to absorbe and thus increase synthesis of glutathione inside the cell. This increased amount of glutathione inside cell improves the arsenic detoxification mechanism which was clinically proved in some (highly affected) rural areas of Bangladesh.

It is obvious that arsenic toxicity is the un-focused calamity in Bangladesh because it is a non-profitable area where mostly people with low-income is involved. Still this invention of Viola Vitalis and Allium Vitalis may be one way of support for the victims.

Article By:
Md. Azharul Haque Bhuiyan
Officer, Product Development,
Novartis Bangladesh Limited.

Artical sources:
  • Arsenicosis Management by Arsenicure & ARS-Detox; Viola Vitalis.
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