Modern Medicine: Gene Therapy Revolutions

The technology of gene therapy has long been viewed as a pragmatic way in which to erase disease, by revising people’s DNA.

Gene therapy, as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is a treatment in which a kind of replacement gene is added and integrated into a person’s body—or a disease-causing gene is inactivated. The process involves the addition of new instructions to cells, via billions of viruses with correct DNA strands.

The procedure is complex, first tested in 1990 with an abundance of negative side effects. While the past two decades have seen immense progress, gene treatments run at exorbitantly expensive prices.

Yet scientists and biotechnology entrepreneurs have continued to work and funnel money and resources into gene therapy, and 2016 has seen further growth and development. Italian scientists at Milan’s San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy reported that they had cured 18 children of a rare, extremely debilitating immune deficiency disease—ADA-SCID—by removing the children’s bone marrow and adding a gene to make the ADA enzyme that their bodies lacked.

Moreover, although the revolutionary cancer treatment that uses gene engineering to reprogram immune cells is not always considered a form of gene therapy, this type of immunotherapy has been proven to destroy certain types of cancer.

There is an abundance of promising results through human tests and studies, and 2017 will likely be the year in which the FDA evaluates and assesses several gene therapies. These include a treatment for hereditary blindness; approval would be an enormous breakthrough moment for the biotech industry—and one of the most inventive and pioneering ways to fully eradicate disease.

Physician of the Month: Kenneth Orbeck, DO, ABAARM, FAARM

A4M valued member Kenneth Orbeck, DO, ABAARM, FAARM, shares insight from his professional experience in this Physician of the Month feature. 

Dr. Kenneth Orbeck

After experiencing a severe and life-threatening emergency, Dr. Kenneth Orbeck fought his way back to recovery while beginning to cultivate his interest in helping underserved communities. His passion for prevention and early intervention of disease grew as he experienced the consequences of terminal illness: as he began to practice functional and integrative healthcare on a personal level, Dr. Orbeck experienced a complete personal recovery of previous health problems and injuries.

Q: Before joining A4M, what was your medical background?

My medical background was in the area of family medicine. I functioned as a board certified family physician for approximately 15 years, at which time I joined the A4M and became certified by the ABAARM and a fellow in the FAARM.

Q: What anti-aging techniques have you incorporated into your practice?

I have incorporated multiple protocols outlined by the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine, as well as the Medical Metabolic Institute. These involve the functional assessment of systems-based biology and organ systems which allow the application of various detoxification protocols, hormonal optimization, nutritional optimization, and proper supplementation to enhance biochemical pathways. This results in the correction of various metabolic derangements. I have applied systems-based biology to achieve optimal health and recovery, which was not previously possible with the simple application of pharmaceutical intervention.

Q: What are the benefits of practicing anti-aging medicine?

Anti-aging medicine offers multiple benefits to both the practitioner and the patient. With the understanding of systems-based/age management medicine and the application of functional/integrative protocols, the practitioner has a variety of tools that allow optimal patient outcome. The patient benefits from an elevated state of health and the ultimate goal of total health and wellness.

Q: What are the changes you are seeing in your patients?

When applying the protocols in functional and integrative healthcare management, I often see incredible changes in the patient’s health toward optimal wellness. This involves areas including weight management, muscle mass, bone strengthening, organ system recovery, and overall vitality. Systems-based medical intervention allows organ systems to communicate, often resulting in total health and wellness. The patient simply feels and looks better.

Q: Why would you recommend anti-aging medicine to your peers?

I would highly recommend anti-aging medicine to any of my colleagues in the practice of medicine. Understanding and applying systems-based medical management, which involves different functional and integrative protocols, allows enhanced patient care and optimal recovery. Anti-aging medicine teaches one to focus on the underlying problem, not simply treating the patient’s symptoms. Understanding how organ systems communicate with each other in the evolution of disease allows the practitioner a broader sense of disease progression and the greater likelihood of early intervention.

Q: Where do you see the future of anti-aging medicine 20 years from now?

It is very difficult for me to imagine anti-aging medicine 20 years from now. After being involved in age management medicine and functional integrative protocols throughout the past seven years, I have seen this area of medicine grow exponentially. New techniques and protocols are now being based on genetic analysis and application. Understanding the concepts that involve the micro-biome and cellular genetics, age management medicine will become increasingly defined to involve more advanced testing. This will allow the practitioner early disease prediction and prevention: the patient’s health will be influenced through both nutrigenomics and epigenetics.

Life Expectancy & Longevity

Recent studies on mortality rates, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, reported a slight decrease in American life expectancy. The most recent decline before this was during the peak of H.I.V.-related deaths; yet this time, researchers have reported that a host of factors–including heart disease and other degenerative disorders–are the culprits.

Experts in health policy state that a 0.1 decrease is alarming, as life expectancy is generally consistent and predictable in its gradual increase. The culmination of problems that spurred the decline included a 15.7 percent increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s, and the inherent mortality rates that accompany increased rates of obesity.

At A4M, our overarching mission is to treat, diagnose, and ultimately prevent diseases associated with aging, in addition to providing educational awareness regarding wellness, nutrition, and the ways in which to remain healthy. Join us in our effort to achieve these goals, and solidify your commitment to making a difference in medicine.