[Australia, USA] A wild Tasmanian underwater plant has played a key role in breakthrough US research that found seaweed compounds can reduce cancer growth rates.
Studies on animals at the University of Texas, Houston, found extracts from two seaweed species, one of which grows in Tasmania, reduced tumour growth in select cancers.
The Tasmanian species undaria pinnatifida is native to Japan but was first identified off the state’s East Coast in 1988.
The extracts — known as fucoidans — were developed and manufactured by Cambridge biotechnology company Marinova.
They were tested in mouse models of human cancer, including cervical, breast and ovarian cancer.
Ingestion of the fucoidan extracts decreased the growth of a human ovarian cancer tumour by up to 33 per cent and a human cervical cancer tumour up to 70 per cent.
The extracts also significantly improved the effectiveness of the common chemotherapy drug tamoxifen, meaning fucoidan has the potential to be used as a complementary cancer therapy.
Researchers found fucoidan improved the effectiveness of the drug for breast cancer.
It decreased breast cancer tumour growth by up to an additional 26 per cent when taken alongside tamoxifen.
Marinova was founded in 2003 and is recognised globally for the quality and efficacy of its fucoidan products.
Marinova chief scientist Helen Fitton said the research was groundbreaking.
“These results show the potential for fucoidan to help restore functional immunity in cancer patients,” Dr Fitton said
“To have identified a safe, natural compound that has such a significant effect on immunity in an oncology setting is really quite remarkable.”
University of Texas Associate Professor Judith Smith led the research project and said it was the first to comprehensively assess the metabolism of fucoidan compounds for possible chemotherapy drug interactions.
Photo: The Tasmanian species Undaria pinnatifida, which is native to Japan, has been shown to help slow the growth of cancer tumours. Photo: CSIRO
View original article at: Tasmanian seaweed plays vital role in new cancer hope