Dr. Stephen J. Polyak's lecture on 8 November was on the potential medical benefits of Silymarin, which comes from the seeds of the milk thistle plant. Silymarin is commonly known as milk thistle and was used in Greece and is continued to be used for treatment of hepatic gallbladder diseases and to protect again liver deterioration from ingested toxins.
It has the potential to modulate metabolism inflammation and immune response. It has and is continued to be consumed by liver disease patients and HIV patients for its hepatoprotective properties. Noteworthy was when Dr. Polyak mentioned that there is no effect on liver enzymes and HCV in vivo using oral dosing of silymarin. Silymarin is alluring to researchers for its display of multiple effects including blocking:
- Hepatitis C virus
- NF-kB activation (anti-inflammatory properties)
- Virus induced stress
- T cell proliferation
- Cytokine production
- HIV virus
Dr. Polyak also mentioned how his team uses Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) which is a web tool used to analyze data and overlay experimental data to draw associations and generate more accurate hypothesis. IPA helps to identify the most relevant signaling and metabolic pathways and biological functions for a particular set of genes. It also predicts the downstream effects of diseases as well as activation and inhibition factors. Comparing affected phenotypes becomes much easier. Hopefully more funding will come to Dr. Polyak and his team so they can get down to the specifics of how exactly silymarin affects the body.