New Perspectives on Healing Chronic Diseases – a paper by Dr Naviaux


In a paper published May 10, 2023 ‘Mitochondrial and metabolic features of salugenesis and the healing cycle’ Dr Robert Naviaux, professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Pathology at UC San Diego whose work has been supported by The BRAIN Foundation, outlines the array of processes and players that drive body’s defence and healing process, and whose dysfunction underlies many chronic illnesses.

In his previous work Dr Naviaux posited that the root cause of a wide range of disorders – from diabetes and autoimmune disorders to long COVID and autism – lies with disruption in the normal sequence of mitochondrial transformations needed to initiate and complete the healing cycle. He has called this universal response to infection, stress, or injury, the cell danger response or CDR.

CDR is triggered into action when we are exposed to stressors such as infections or chemical pollutants. But sometimes CDR continues to sound the alarm even after the original threat has cleared, meaning that inflammation and cell dysfunction persist. This leads to chronic symptoms, or persistent disease states.

“Acute illness, is a temporary state; chronic illness results from the long-term inability to heal completely after an acute injury has passed. They are two sides of the same coin.” Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD

In his latest paper Dr Naviax adds to this the concept of salugenesis – the restorative healing process – and outlines several key points:

  • It is a mistake to study chronic diseases in isolation. While, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder looks a lot different from diabetes or autism, these, and many other conditions, share an underlying failure of the body to heal after exposure to trauma.
  • Disease is governed by biological logic, which is intrinsic and the result of millions of years of evolution to address internal problems. Modern medicine has advanced through engineering logic, which looks at external issues generally involving non-living systems.
  • Health and healing are dynamic cycles involving all parts of the cell and our whole body. Since mitochondria generate most of the energy needed by the cells, they are also “cellular canaries in tahe coal mine, the early warning system that determines the nature and location of a problem or threat, and when to sound the alarm.”
  • Mitochondria prioritize cellular safety and respond to outside stressors by stopping their normal functions and instead shifting to pro-inflammatory functions that are needed to face off threats. While this mechanism works great for short term defences – for example for fighting off acute infections – it is harmful if it keeps on running for a long time.
Naviaux argues for development of salugenesis-based research, and for exploring the unified biological response to injury, harm and disease and the ways to unblock the healing process.

“If healing can be rebooted or unblocked after it has been derailed, cures of disorders once thought incurable may one day be possible.” Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD

The BRAIN Foundation is proud that the research we have supported has brought about an important new perspective on the origin, modeling and treatment of chronic disease.

Naviaux RK. Mitochondrial and metabolic features of salugenesis and the healing cycle. Mitochondrion. 2023 Apr 27;70:131-163. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2023.04.003. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37120082.

Watch Dr Naviaux’s BRAIN Synchrony Symposia presentations






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