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Magnesium Project - Home Page

It is all about better health.

 What is The Magnesium Project?

The Magnesium Project models itself after other major scientific endeavors such as The Human Genome Project, The Human Proteome Project and others.  Projects of such scale require the collaboration of many scientists and institutions throughout the world.  The spin-off knowledge, technology and products from such projects has and will continue to be substantial. We believe the Magnesium Project may not be on the same scale as the Human Genome Project for example but it will nonetheless have important spin-offs in the fields of science and medicine.  We believe that some of those spin-offs will come in the form of learning new ways of collaborating, of sharing information, of developing unifying models, and of facilitating technology transfer to commercially viable products and services.

  Why Magnesium?

Magnesium in its ionic form is one of the essential electrolytes in all life forms.  It plays a key role in membrane integrity, in cross-membrane transport  systems and in stability of numerous enzymes and biochemical compounds.  To date we know that there are hormones or other regulatory chemicals (including ion channel proteins) responsible for influencing the update, discharge and activity of the other primary cationic electrolytes in the body, sodium, potassium and calcium.  However, there has been relatively little effort to identify an equivalent hormone playing such a role in magnesium utilization.  We have coined the term Magnetonin for this missing hormone.  In fact, by analogy with calcium and calcitonin there are likely to be a number of missing regulatory proteins and pathways including for example a peptide hormone releasing factor and magnesium level sensors linked to a signaling pathway that turns on a genetic code to initiate production of Magnetonin.

Magnesium is involved in other ways in plants and lower life forms.  It plays a role in activation of many different enzymes (including a large group of kinases), phosphorylases, transferases and signaling proteins.  It serves a chelating role and is key in complexing with the porphyrin groups of chlorophyll and other compounds.

  What are the Potential Implications?

Muscle and nerve membranes, so-called excitable tissues, are very likely to be impacted by inadequate regulation of magnesium.  There are many nerve and muscle diseases that could be treated by the yet to be discovered Magnetonin.  Diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, et al. are all based on nerve or muscle function.  The regulation of cell division may also be susceptible to magnesium metabolism deficiencies thus opening up the possibility of an underlying link with cancer.  Metabolic disorders and immune system malfunctions also have enzymes in their metabolic pathways that are Mg-dependent.  Thus, the implications are expected to be very broad. 

To learn more about the the various diseases for which Magnesium regulation may play a role click on Diseases.

Also, see a featured disease under the Women's Health Initiative that addresses Hypertension and the related diseases of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia that are often associated with pregnancy.  Other conditions under this Initiative include special nutritional needs of women during pregnancy including vitamin and mineral supplements.  At present a survey of women on their experiences with obtaining nutritional information to assure a healthy child and a healthy mother is being conducted.

Our research and educational initiatives have extended implications regarding diet and nutrition in general; since there is evidence that even in America and other developed countries a large percentage of the population have inadequate levels of magnesium in their diet resulting in hypomagnesemia.  For lesser developed countries the incidence of hypomagnesemia is much higher.  This means a significant portion of the population could be more susceptible to a myriad of diseases which has implications for health care costs as well as quality of life and productivity.

As indicated, Mg plays in important biochemical role in plants and lower life forms as well.  Reaching a better understanding of Mg biochemistry in these systems could have profound implications on food sources, agriculture and microbiology as well as the impact on human health as outlined above..

  How Is This Being Implemented?

Implementation is taking place with the use of dozens of volunteers from across the country.  We are developing multiple web sites to address specific areas and facilitate sharing of information.  A Magnesium Portal  is one such site that is under development.  Another is a site dedicated to the discovery of and effects of a magnesium regulating hormone, Magnetonin. Gathering, sharing and analyzing large amounts of diverse information will provide the basis for launching new research projects to accelerate the discovery process. 

A number of databases are under development including the following:

  • Bibliography of scientific articles on magnesium research

  • Disease specific databases of references (pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, prostate cancer)

  • Research institutions and scientists engaged in Mg research

  • Methodologies for detection and monitoring minerals

  • Proteins/enzymes that are Mg-dependent (most kinases)

  • Clinical studies including translational research best practices

  • Food sources for increasing Mg intake

In addition to developing a better understanding of magnesium regulation and the role of ionic magnesium in normal cell functions in general, we expect to develop analytical and collaborative tools that will accelerate the discovery and commercialization of new treatments in other areas of research as well.

Another component of implementation is an educational initiative to inform consumers as well as health care providers and policy makers about the importance of magnesium in one's diet and the importance of monitoring Mg levels in the blood just as other electrolyte levels are now regularly monitored.

Another educational and services initiative is in developing tutorials on systems behavior such as feedback and control loops that are normally operative in biological systems.  Some of these may be implemented as software programs that are illustrated on the web.  For applications to understanding health and disease see the Health Care Initiatives.

  How Can I Get Involved?

Sharing of information is a vital part of our program.  However, beyond that, we need to develop models and means to test hypotheses in the laboratory and in large populations.  We need to develop better tools to measure ionic magnesium levels in tissues in real time.  We need software tools to analyze large amounts of data collected in many different forms and formats.  We need  scientists in academic, government and commercial laboratories to isolate and identify new molecules and we need pharmaceutical firms to provide scale up of production of new compounds and to sponsor clinical studies to achieve regulatory approvals for distribution.  As part of this effort we will also need clinicians to participate in studies and report findings.

The general public can become involved by participating in studies and sharing medical records and other profile information that will allow us to find novel patterns of correlating abnormalities in magnesium regulation (such as under or over-production of magnetonin or its antagonists and agonists) to the occurrence of various diseases. 

We also need financial support to maintain the growing databases, develop computer models, conduct research and to support investigators who will mine these databases for new insights and discovery of regulatory pathways for magnesium and associated components. 

Contact the Program Director for further details.

  Global Initiatives

Please check out our Global Initiatives for the Magnesium Project and other global health initiatives including reducing Air Pollution.

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Revised: February 18, 2020