The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Value of zinc to treat Wilson disease

    Wilson disease is a genetic disorder that affects copper storage, leading to liver failure and neurologic deterioration.

    Researchers at the University Hospital of Heidelberg, in Germany, studied the long-term outcomes copper chelators vs zinc salts.

    First, the details.

    • The medical records of 288 patients analyzed over about 17 years.
    • Adherence to therapy, survival, treatment failure, and adverse events from different treatment were compared.
      • Chelators
      • Zinc
      • Combination treatment
    • Liver treatment failure was defined as an increase in activity of liver enzymes, with an increase in urinary copper excretion.

    And, the results.

    • Liver and neuropsychiatric symptoms occurred in 68% and 34% of patients, respectively.
    • Liver treatment failure occurred significantly more often from zinc therapy than from chelator therapy.
    • Actuarial survival, without transplantation, showed a significant advantage for chelating agents vs zinc.
    • Patients who did not respond to zinc therapy showed hepatic improvement after reintroduction of a chelating agent.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Treatments with chelating agents or zinc salt are effective in most patients with Wilson disease; chelating agents are better at preventing hepatic deterioration.”

    “It is important,” they continue, “to identify patients who do not respond to zinc therapy and have increased activities of liver enzymes, indicating that a chelating agent should be added to the therapeutic regimen.”

    Mayoclinic.com has a succinct review that present background on Wilson’s disease, and places these treatment options into perspective.

    3/30/11 20:50 JR

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