Does Silicon Valley Hold the Key to a new COPD treatment?

 

Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases including COPD. The race is on for pharmaceutical companies to come up with molecules which suppress inflammation. But is the race already over and has the Silicon Valley company HVMN come up with a home run?

Beta-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) has become the talking point amongst amateur biohackers and the career scientist. Why? BHB has been the subject of many studies trying to figure out just what this compound can actually do. From its performance benefits in certain sports to its role as a signalling molecule in chronic disease.

βHB is not a newly discovered compound. In fact, βHB is a naturally forming compound found in human blood when the body is in a fasted state. In the 1920’s scientists formulated a diet which mimicked fasting and called it the ketogenic diet. βHB is one of three ketone bodies which are produced when eating a ketogenic diet. The diet was used to treat epilepsy patients and had a remarkable success rate.

Fast forward to 2015 and the βHB story becomes very interesting. Scientists from Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, found the compound βHB could block the NLRP3 inflammsome.

Is this really a big deal? I guess if you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people around the world with chronic disease, it’s a very big deal. For respiratory patients this could well be the biggest development in treatments for decades. To understand the significance of this development you only have to look at a study which identified NLRP3 as essential for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

However, while these studies are very positive we are yet to see clinical trials in COPD patients where βHB is used. βHB, is not only produced from the human body, but for many years it has been formulated in laboratories around the world. βHB esters are a highly potent product able to raise blood ketone levels significantly for many hours. Given its potential benefits for both the sporting arena and as a therapeutic treatment it was only a matter of time before we saw βHB hit the market.

Enter HVMN! They are the first company to bring the Ketone Ester βHB to market. While pharmaceutical companies are still to find a safe compound, which can block NLRP3, HVMN have managed to pass FDA requirements and have their product ready for delivery. Early in 2017 I was fortunate to be able to sample the raw βHB product at Oxford University in the laboratory of Professor Kieran Clarke, the βHB esters co-developer. I was quite surprised by the positive effect βHB had on my symptoms, in particular my breathlessness.

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Here I am 1 year later and I’m about to become the first COPD patient to run the Boston marathon using the HVMN ketone ester which I purchased online. I’m not quite sure what to expect from using the supplement but I do suspect it will be beneficial judging by my previous experience.

This time around I will be measuring my spirometry before and after using the ester to see if it can improve my FEV1 (a measure of lung function) result. Given the anti-inflammatory properties of βHB it is quite possible my FEV1 result will improve.

 

While the arrival of the HVMN ketone ester is an exciting development its initial cost makes it prohibitive for an everyday supplement. However, as interest grows in the properties of βHB and demand grows, hopefully we’ll see the price come down. In the meantime, if you have the money and live in the United States, I recommend you try the βHB ester from HVMN to see if your respiratory disease receives the same positive effects which I experienced.

As always please see your doctor before any change in the way you manage your disease.

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