Can your anti-inflammatory drug be causing inflammation?

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Researchers at the University of California, San Diego Health Services, have discovered what may be a significant problem for some: an ingredient in anti-inflammatory medication can cause inflammation in some patients.

The ingredient is called Neu5Gc and is a non-human sugar. This ingredient had been a known ingredient and thought to be totally healthy to all humans. The study sheds light that, for some people, the Gc version may indeed exacerbate issues such as those who have had heart attacks and cancer. However, the drug ingredient does not cause problems. But it might not be as helpful as hoped for.

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The researchers also think they may have found a fix for this issue. “Every animal cell is cloaked in sugar molecules, which serve as vital contact points for interaction with other cells and their surrounding environment. At the same time, the attached sugars are targets for infectious diseases like influenza, malaria and cholera.”

The Neu5Gc is a sialic acid and is necessary for survival but at the same time, it can attack the body. Humans have another version than the mammalian version, called Neu5Ac, one oxygen atom difference. But it could be a very important difference. Because the human body recognizes the difference between the two, it develops antibodies against the Gc version.

Part of the process the body goes through to fight off diseases involves inflammation. So, if the human body sees the Gc version as a disease, it will start fighting its presence, creating inflammation. This ingredient is found in some foods (like red meat) and in medication, some of which is used to treat inflammation. Luckily, the fix seems rather simple.

Researchers suggest adding the human sialic acid (the Ac version) to the drug-making process. In the initial tests, this removed low-level Gc contamination in drugs. It would require FDA approval to make this process adjustment. Your doctor will know if the medication you are currently taking has the Gc version and what you should do if it is a problem.

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