COQ10 AND THE HEART
CoQ10 was discovered in 1957-relatively late as vitamins discoveries go-by Frederick Crane, Ph.D., now at Purdue University in Indiana. Four years later, Peter D. Mitchell, Ph.D., of the University of Edinburgh, figured out how CoQ10 produces energy at the cellular level and, in 1978, won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for this discovery.
By the mid-1960s, Japanese researchers recognized that CoQ10 concentrated in the myocardium, or heart muscle. Its role in the heart makes sense: the heart, one of the body’s most energetic organs, beats approximately 100,000 times a day and 36 million times a year, and depends on CoQ10 for “bioenergetics.” In the early 1980s, Folkers, director of the Institute for Biochemical Research at the University of Texas, and the late Per H. Langsjoen, M.D. (Peter’s father), conducted the first study of CoQ10 in the treatment of cardiomyopathy, a form of progressive heart failure.
The findings were astounding. In a well-controlled study, 19 patients who were expected to die from heart failure rebounded with an “extraordinary clinical improvement,” according to Folkers and Langsjoen’s report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (June 1985;82:4240-4).
Case studies demonstrate the dramatic effect of CoQ10. In Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (Jan 15, 1993;182:247-53), Folkers described a 43-year-old man suffering from cardiomyopathy. After being given CoQ10, his enlarged heart became smaller (indicating it was working more efficiently), and he was able to resume an “extremely active athletic lifestyle.” The heart function of another patient, a 50-year-old man with very severe cardiomyopathy, returned after he took CoQ10, and he has since had “no limitations of activity.”
Numerous other studies have confirmed the role of CoQ10 in treating heart failure, which is otherwise treated with drugs (such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors)-or with a heart transplant. A sampling:
· Sixty-five cardiologists treating 806 patients for heart failure or ischemic heart disease indicated “significant” benefits from CoQ10. (Langsjoen, PH, Klinische Wochenschrift, 1988;66:583-90.)
· Twenty-five hundred heart failure patients at 173 Italian medical centers were given 50 to 150 mg CoQ10 daily for three months. Eighty percent of the patients had some type of improvement. (Clinical Investigator, Aug. 1993;71S:145-9)
· A 12-month double-blind study compared 319 patients taking CoQ10 with 322 taking a placebo. CoQ10 reduced complications of heart failure as well as the need for hospitalization. (Clinical Investigator, Aug. 1993;71S:134-6).
COQ10 AND CANCER
Although CoQ10 is best documented in the treatment of heart failure, two recent medical journal articles suggest tremendous promise in the treatment of cancer. In Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (April 15, 1993;192:241-5), Folkers described 10 cancer patients given CoQ10 for heart failure. One of the patients, a 48-year-old man diagnosed in 1977 with inoperable lung cancer, has been not had any signs of either cancer and heart failure symptoms while taking CoQ10 for 17 years! Another patient, an 82-year-old man, had been treated for colon cancer.
Knud Lockwood, M.D., a cancer specialist in Copenhagen, Denmark, recently described his treatment of 32 “high-risk” breast cancer patients with antioxidant vitamins, essential fatty acids, and CoQ10. “No patient died and all expressed a feeling of well-being,” he wrote in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (March 30, 1994;199:1504-8). “These clinical results are remarkable since about 4 deaths would have been expected. Now, after 24 months, all still survive; about 6 deaths would have been expected.”
Six of the 32 patients showed partial tumor remission, and two benefited from very high doses of CoQ10. One, a 59-year-old woman with a family history of breast cancer, had a tumor removed from her left breast. The cancer returned, but “stabilized” at about 1.5-2 centimeters (about 1/2 to 3/4-inch) in diameter when the patient took 90 mg. of CoQ10 daily. One month after increasing the CoQ10 intake to 390 mg. daily, the tumor disappeared. Mammography confirmed its absence.
Another patient, age 74, had a small tumor removed from her right breast. She refused a second operation to remove additional growths and began taking 300 mg of CoQ10 daily. Three months later, an examination and mammography revealed no evidence of the tumor or metastases.
Lockwood, who has treated some 7,000 cases of breast cancer over 35 years, wrote that until using CoQ10, he had “never seen a spontaneous complete regression of a 1.5-2.0 centimeter breast tumor, and has never seen a comparable regression on any conventional anti-tumor therapy.”
COQ10 AND AIDS
One of the most remarkable findings was that CoQ10 supplementation could extend the lifespan of patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 1986, Folkers and Per Langsjoen began treating seven patients with HIV or AIDS. Not all of the patients consistently took CoQ10, but “the treatment was very encouraging and at times even striking,” Folkers wrote in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (June 16, 1988;153:888-96). “All 7 patients (3 AIDS, 4 ARC) felt better soon after starting on CoQ10,” wrote Folkers.
It’s with the treatment of AIDS that the medical story of CoQ10 turns into one of economic intrigue. The University of Texas, where the AIDS/CoQ10 research was conducted, applied for a “use-patent” for the treatment of AIDS. The patent (#1,011,858), one of several for CoQ10 and immune function, was granted on April 30, 1991. The use-patent gives the owner full patent rights to the nutrient when it’s prescribed for the treatment of AIDS.
In 1993, the university sold the use-patient to James Ryan, an investment banker and one of the patients in Folkers’ original cardiomyopathy study. Ryan, head of Ryan Pharmaceuticals, paid several hundred thousand dollars for the use patent, then sold it for an estimated $2 million to Receptagen, a U.S./Canadian biotechnology firm. The company plans to market prescription versions of CoQ10 for the treatment of AIDS sometime in the next two years.