Let’s Talk Mold:Dr. Naviaux on the Cell Danger Response

Let’s Talk Mold

Takeaways from the ISEAI 2019 Inaugural Conference May 2019.

Day 1 Dr. Naviaux on the Cell Danger Response


               Danger! Everyone knows to run when this word is shouted, but for Dr. Naviaux, the Cell Danger Response describes how our cells respond to threats, not just run away from threats.  As a researcher at the University of California San Diego, he has worked for years with mitochondrial diseases and collaborated with Autism researchers on overlapping molecular discoveries.  A chance to hear Dr. Naviaux speak in person after reading many of his papers was like getting stage level seats to one of your favorite rock bands.  The work he has pioneered in understanding how the cells respond to infection, toxins, and other stressors already impacts much of medicine.  As his findings filter out into clinical practice, it may change how we practice medicine 10 to 20 years from now.  If only that would happen sooner.

               An early quote in his talk is worthy of repeating:

“Chronic disease is an actively maintained reaction to an injury, not unlike a scab or wound that will not heal. The disease that is left behind is not the initial injury, or agent of injury itself.”

This could encapsulate the meat of half of the remaining hour and a half of his talk.  This basically means that we cannot think of an illness as simply the ongoing trigger such as a toxin or infection.  The actual process of disease becomes a separate process often continuing after the trigger is removed.  The other half revolved around the consequence of recognizing disease as an entity different from the trigger.  In simple terms, the path to healing from a disease usually, if not always returns to health along a different path.  Our cells don’t just put it in reverse and back up through the triggering process, but take a different road.  Dr. Naviux laid out the cell danger response for us in all its glory, a return pathway to health.

For a more in-depth introduction to the Cell Danger Response, please read Dr. Naviaux’s work “the Metabolic Features and Regulation of the Healing Cycle”.  It can be found in Mitochondrion  September 2018 and then another article “Metabolic features of the cell danger response” in Mitochondrion, 2014.  For more information on his groundbreaking work on Suramin as a treatment for Autism go to his website http://naviauxlab.ucsd.edu.

A number of takeaway points include:

  • The treatment for acute illness differs from that of chronic illness.  The former removes the trigger and treats the symptoms.  The latter requires an unblocking of the healing cycle after triggers are removed.
  • The healing cycle is a three-step sequence in which the Cell Danger Response coordinates the mitochondria’s (energy producing organelles in cells) function after injuries.
  • The Cell Danger Response consists of multiple interlocking processes: innate immunity, mast cell activation, oxidative burst and shielding, allostatic loads, vagal responses, and many more.
  • Chronic disease results from blocks in the 3 steps of the healing cycle.
  • Autism and Fibromyalgia are blocks in step 3. Other chronic diseases appear to be created by blocks in other steps.   Even aging appears to be promoted by blocks in the healing cycle.
  • ATP, the energy currency of the cell modulates this process when it moves outside the cell. The use of medications which lower extracellular ATP can turn off the illness process and restore healing in chronic disease.
  • The healing process involves 100’s of metabolic changes. Fixing one at a time will not produce healing. They must work in concert to see benefit.
  • By studying metabolomic fingerprints (levels of various biochemicals in the cells) during an illness, one can find a number of consistent abnormalities. (Using tests like organic acid testing is one form of this metabolomics evaluation)

I would encourage you to read more of Dr. Naviaux’s work.  The future of chronic disease therapy likely lies within this paradigm.  By identifying the trigger, removing it, and stimulating the common healing pathway, many chronic diseases will become treatable.  At Sanctuary, we already work with these ideas in mind.  While detoxing from toxins or attacking infections, we recommend therapies which can lower collateral damage and stimulate anti-inflammatory pathways like NrF2.  We don’t believe in holding back on either front in the battle for our patient’s health restoration.










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