Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NeoCell Follow-Up Interview

In my pursuit for better joint health, I am willing to try almost anything.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the conclusive study on glucosamine chondroitin that found no link between taking the supplement and better joint health, and I also wrote about the debated benefits of taking collagen to improve joint health.  A conclusive study on collagen has yet to be conducted, and the current research offers mixed opinions as to whether or not collagen can improve the integrity of joints.  At the same time, however, I was a bit hard on NeoCell, the supplement manufacturer that sparked my interest in collagen in the first place, and I feel that it's only fair that they get to defend the merits of their product, especially since the research has yet to offer a definitive answer.

The following is a brief interview with Sarah Quadri, NeoCell's resident biochemist.  The italicized sentences are mine.

What is your educational and professional background?  Where did you study, what did you study, and what sort of work did you do in the field before coming to NeoCell?
Actually, working here at NeoCell was my first job out of college, and although originally my plans were for medical school or public health I loved it so much ever since that I never looked back for the last 11 years. Sharing our products with people that really help turn their lives around has become a passion for me and the rest of the NeoCell team.  My degree is actually in Biomolecular Science, more Molecular Biology/Genetics/Microbiology, not so much on the chemistry focus.  As a student, I also was involved in the microbiological side of some food science research for various large corporations while I was studying.  I work on product development alongside our Formulator and Consultant who is a PhD in chemistry and an MD.

Are there any studies on collagen on a similar scale of the glucosamine chondroitin study that was published in the British Journal of Medicine in 2010?

Some of the arguments against collagen are that eating collagen
does not mean improved collagen tissue because digestion will breakdown collagen into its base amino acids, which does not guarantee that those amino acids will be reassembled as joint collagen tissue. I've had a few people, one a medical professional, compare the practice to eating bones to get stronger bones.  What is your perspective on this?  An article on a similar vein for consideration:

In terms of scale, there hasn't been that size of a review on collagen alone.  Certainly glucosamine and chondroitin are more commonly known and spawned those efforts.  However, I believe that review unfortunately showed CH/GL not successful compared to placebo results.  This doesn't surprise me since the mucopolysaccharides are only 30% of the picture when it comes to the joints.  The other 70% of joint cartilage is the collagen protein.  I've attached some research on collagen for your review, whether on joints, fibromyalgia, dermis, pressure ulcers etc [Marshal's Note: Sarah attached quite a few sources to her email. Email me at mcarper@gmail.com, and I will forward them to you].  

Essentially, the effects of collagen are based around a central effect of promoting wound healing and improvement in soft tissue quality/quantity.  We are currently in the process of developing research strategies and product development with a very prestigious university over the next two years.  However, I'm not at liberty to discuss it quite yet.  To have a HUMAN study on dietary supplements as large as the one you reference is extremely difficult to do LEGITIMATELY due to regulations and cost and such, but that effort is our goal between now and 2014.  We believe we are finally at a point in our company's growth where we can PROPERLY accomplish such a feat on our material, and as a scientist at heart I yearn to be a part of that as you can imagine. I am additionally attaching an absorption white paper we conducted on our Super Collagen material as well as studies on collagen intake and connection to cell proliferation to address your concerns about bioavailability.  This is of course just a sampling of the collagen research available, but I thought I'd pick out some that can give you an overall perspective of the various things collagen can address.

For my role as someone testing the effectiveness of the NeoCell supplement, how will we determine that an improvement in my joint health is a result of the supplement and not a result of physical therapy or the natural healing process?  I am especially concerned about this because of the unreliable nature of anecdotal evidence.

The most ideal way is your medical doctor will have their textbook standard on what he/she expects to see in your progress to have achieved at certain points in your typical therapy.  I would then monitor whether you advance significantly in your healing schedule.  He/She won't give you anything different than they would for other patients so that is your placeholder so to speak.  This could be measured easily by the progress surveys your doctor will give you regarding pain and range of motion.  Even for an avid athlete your doctor would have adjusted standards that he would expect you to meet.  We've actually had an employee here have that experience herself quite recently after ACL surgery.  Her doctor was quite shocked at her atypical progress.  Of course the variables of your health and such always come in to play, but this should give you your own informal personal experiment to play around with.  Unfortunately there would be no way we could have a “placebo” as that would require you to either need another surgery (we wouldn’t want that now right? Or find another patient with equivalent health to not take the collagen during their therapy.  Equivalent health would be crucial to take out the variables.

On a side note, as an MMA buff I thought I'd share Frankie Edgar's dad was kind of enough to share with us that he really believes our Collagen Sport product was making a difference with his training and recovery so it's nice to hear that feedback.  Frankie is a class act for sure. (Since our Collagen Sport has both whey and collagen, I included some preliminary research done on the prospects of combining whey with collagen for improved nitrogen retention... small scale, but promising for the next research steps) [Marshal's note: again, if anyone would like these sources forwarded to them, email me, and it will be done].


Thank you, Sarah, for answering my questions.  I am currently taking NeoCell's whey protein and collagen mix.  It tastes great, but I am hesitant to speak of any benefits or results derived from taking the supplement.  I simply do not have enough information available to me to ethically make such a statement, which would in turn be a recommendation for others to take the supplement.  I am, however, looking forward to reading more research on collagen.

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