Threshold of a Revolution in Preventive Scientific Biomedicine in the 21st Century.

By Nihal S.DeSilva, PhD and Tipu Sultan, MD Environmental Health & Allergy Center, EHAC-St. Louis, MO

Environmental Health Signals and Epigenetic Medicine (Epigenome)  may top all other forms of Preventive Care:Early Detection Of Epigenetic Changes In Preventive Medicine Require the Deciphering of ‘Evidence-based’ Biomarkers Using the Rapid Diagnostic Techniques of Raman Spectroscopy.

We are at the threshold of a revolution in preventive scientific biomedicine in the 21st century. The goals of such a true revolution in thinking is to stop an illness before it starts or to discover and treat a disease before it spreads and become serious. The fundamental understanding  of  health and disease runs much deeper and is dependent not so much on genetic factors but on epigenetic changes that are reversible, and play a unique role in the pathways to prevent disease. This new discovery emphasizes the fact that prevention of disease is more important than what the genes tell us. Thus epigenetics is the study of the effect of the environment on our genes. We can do only so much with our endowed genes but we can have a great influence on our environmental factors under which we live. Thus the importance of epigenetic factors like modifying the environment to eliminate food allergies, toxins,etc can reverse the disease process, or even modify the environmental factors to prevent disease from happening in the first place!

Thus the ability to diagnose the early onset of disease, rapidly and non-invasively is the challenge of the future, but timely due to the recognition that epigenetic changes may be at the root cause of such diseases as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma, and other chronic diseases. Thus Epigenetics is rapidly emerging as one of the most  exciting scientific fields in preventive medicine. As we completed the sequencing the human genome, scientists worldwide are beginning to realize that only knowing the genetic information is not sufficient to understand the entire manifestations in health and disease. The way the DNA code is translated into function depends not only on its sequence but also on the interactions with environmental signals from outside. So here is where the exciting science of epigenetics comes into play in understanding health and disease. Epigenetics  intergrates the different chemical languages that the genome and the environmental signals use to communicate with each other. Thus epigenetics is the study of heritable changes that affect gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. However, in terms of preventive care, epigenetic events can also be defined as ‘the structural adaptation of chromosomal regions so as to register, signal , or perpetuate altered activity states’.

The known epigenetic modifications include DNA methylation (addition of methyl groups), and other changes of which DNA methylation being the most studied among them. The importance of epigenetics is indicated by the key role played by DNA methylation patterns during embryonic development and the establishment of tissue identities within an organism. However, the epigenetic signature of different tissues is not well defined. Thus the Human Epigenome Project (HEP) has been launched by NIH recently to identify all of the chemical changes and relationships among chromatin constituents (DNA,RNA protein,etc), in an effort to further understand normal development. This augurs well for a true science-based system to understand health and disease at the molecular level. At the same time HEP represents an enormous challenge because epigenomic changes not only show intra-and inter-personal variations, but are subject to modifications throughout the life of a human being. Thus the value of the ‘personalized medicine’ concept that no two individuals are the same although we share the genomes to the accuracy of 99.9 %!  The complexity of the epigenome poses both biological and technical challenges of a diagnostic nature.  For e.g. the development of techniques allowing accurate quantification of chemical levels across genome is a pre-requisite for the success of characterization of the epigenome.

We have embarked on a radically different and novel technique of the true identification of ‘Scientific Biomarkers’ (epigenome markers) for the diagnosis and prevention of disease. The importance of ‘evidence-based’ scientific method becomes apparent to any rational human being! Thus we have developed a novel method of characterization of any disease by the ‘ fingerprint vibrational pattern’ of the non-invasive technique of Raman Spectroscopy. This non-invasive photonic (light-based) technique provides rapid in vivo biochemical information of cells, tissues, organs and bodily fluids. In this study, the method involved shining a beam of laser light of a particular wavelength (e.g. 532/735/1065 nm) on the human skin and then observing the production of a Raman spectral pattern. This spectral pattern will be unique to a cell/organ or fluid and reveals the chemical composition of the biomolecules of the cells, thus allowing the scientists to identify the biochemical changes that precede the disease process. Thus it is preclinical and is of enormous importance for preventive care and treatment of disease.

Such diseases as parasitic infections, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lung infections, autism, and other degenerative diseases (inflammatory) can now be subjected to this type of analysis. In a recent study we have been able to decipher the spectral changes of the skin of Autistic children compared to normal (control) children by this very exciting technique. We hope to continue this study further and also to apply this technique to other epigenome based diseases as described before.

Dr. Tipu Sultan, MD. is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics & of the American Board of Environmental Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Dr. Tipu Sultan is a specialist in Environmental Medicine and studies the cause and effect relationship between your environment & your health. By studying the symptoms, we can in most instances eliminate the need for expensive treatment modalities such as expensive surgery, drugs, etc. Thus Dr. Sultan specializes in Asthma, Migrane headaches, Hyperactivity & Learning Disorders in children, Allergies, Illness from work environment, Chronic Fatigue, Candidiasis /Yeast Infections & Chronic Diseases, Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Depression, Natural Female Hormone Replacement,etc.

www. ehacstl..com. Tel. 314-921-5600

Dr. Nihal DeSilva, PhD , is a biochemist with many years of teaching and research expertise in Lipid Biochemistry, Immunology and Microbiology, Nutrition, Molecular Biology and Molecular Spectroscopy (Raman, IR, NMR, etc). He has done original research and held faculty appointments in Universities in Canada, UK, Caribbean Islands and USA. He has held a Research Professor position in the WashU Medical School (2000-2003) and is a Adj. Professor in teaching Immunology & Nutrition in WashU, Danforth Campus. His current research is on Vibrational Molecular Spectroscopy in Diagnostic Medicine.

Email: desilvanihal @ yahoo.com:

Tel. 314-921-5600/314-378-1537