Dr. Christopher Shade, a former organic farmer, received his PhD from the University of Illinois. His education included the study of metal-ligand interaction in the environment, and for a long time, he specialized in environmental- and analytical chemistry of mercury
About six years ago, he developed and commercialized technology for mercury speciation analysis — a process that separates and measures different forms of mercury. Shortly after starting this company, Quicksilver Scientific, he turned his focus to the clinical side, and the human body's ability to detoxify mercury.
"The heart of mercury's toxicity is what I call inappropriate binding," Dr. Shade says. "Mercury is never a free ion... [M]ercury is always bound in these covalent relationships with what's called the ligand. Mercury's favorite ligand is sulfur; specifically a reduced form of sulfur called a thiol.
This is what you have on cysteine, like N-acetyl cysteine or in glutathione [editor's note: which is why they're so important for mercury elimination]. But these thiols are all throughout your body. [M]etals... like zinc, copper, or iron... are held in place by thiol groups. Mercury has higher affinity for those thiol groups than the [other] metals do.
How much higher? For zinc — a billion times higher – 10 to the ninth. When the mercury comes by... and it sees an enzyme that's holding zinc in it, those cysteines are going to reach over and grab on to the mercury.
Other places that mercury will bind to thiols are on cell membranes... [and] different forms of mercury will cross your blood-brain barrier."Read More