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The War Against Cancer-Can Beta Glucan Serve a Role?

An article by A. J. Lanigan

For many decades, immune therapy has been investigated, utilized, and found to have frequent success in helping the body's immune system fight disease. One of the most feared diseases, cancer, continues to take its toll. Until a cure is found, we may have some answers to slow the progression or help the recovery of cancer patients. One area of immune enhancement concentrates on complex carbohydrates, specifically beta glucan.

In the United States, and in various other parts of the world, the Beta 1, 3-D polyglucose (a complex carbohydrate) molecules have come under intense scrutiny. The Japanese have extracted a pharmaceutical material from a fungal form and called it Krestin (PSK). This is a protein bound carbohydrate molecule that has exhibited antitumor effects in many test tube, animal, and human studies. It exhibits many of the classical characteristics of its U.S. relative, Beta Glucan (BG) from baker's yeast. Beta Glucan has almost 40 years of peer reviewed research attesting to its safety and efficacy. Baker's yeast (also a fungal form) carries a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) rating from the FDA, having no known toxicity. Although the mushroom fungal material cannot make that claim, animal experiments have shown little toxicity at 20,000 mg/kg of body weight. That would be over 1600 grams (3.5 lbs.) for a 150 lb. human. (drink plenty of water with that dose).

Beta glucan

In further comparison, the PSK contains about 75% of the glucose linkage backbone versus 95% in BG. The side chains of these polybranched sugar molecules vary as well. With PSK, mannose, xylose, galactose, and fucose sugars side branch to the 1,3 linkage central sugar molecule. Many U.S. scientists have determined that these side chain variations and frequencies hold the "key into a lock" mechanism that causes certain immune cells to fight the fight and communicate better to defeat cancer and other diseases. Perfecting processes that purify without destroying these natural molecules are imperative in giving researchers and clinicians the material they need to properly dose and deliver consistent results. We see the 1,3 glucose at around 85% with 3-5% 1,6 glucose side chains in BG.

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Although many aspects of exactly how these complex molecules work in the immune system are not clearly understood, four decades of experimentation and use dictate that something is there meriting the use of the material. Scientists and clinicians largely agree that these complex carbohydrates will help return suppressed or enhanced immune responses back to normal levels. In the Killer T cell population (an important antitumor immune cell), activity levels correlate well with the use of these complex carbohydrates. Natural Killer cells and complement show significant effectiveness, according to considerable research by several institutions in the US. Other immune suppressing substances seem to be negated and the intestinal immune system, in particular, appears to be modulated by the oral doses. Finally, it is noted that both the large and the small molecules pass through the intestine and can be traced to the blood using appropriate tracking techniques when taken orally.

We are happy to announce a continuation of human clinical trials using our Beta Glucan along side the conventional medical treatments. We expect to clearly show the efficacy of our material, when appropriate steps are taken to purify the BG, while leaving the active molecules intact. With a standardized material such as ours, researchers and clinicians can always depend upon the correct dosage. This will help to provide the best immune response and positive outcomes for their patients.