Wheat germ extract inhibits cancer, says new expert report

Chicago: A fermented wheatgerm extract has a greater tumor inhibiting effect on estrogen positive and estrogen negative breast cancers than the world’s best selling cancer drug, Tamoxifen, according to research published today at the 2007 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Known as Avemar, this compound has been extensively studied in many cell lines, animal tumor models, and human clinical trials. In the current study, Andras Telekes, MD, Ph.D., head physician at the Hungarian National Institute of Oncology, and his colleagues, implanted estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer cell lines from humans and mice into female mice and monitored tumor growth. They compared subjects treated with Avemar alone, with those monotherapy with three of the most widely used and studied breast cancer drugs, Tamoxifen (sold under the brand names Nolvadex, Istubal, and Valodex), Exemestane, (sold under the brand name Aromasin), and Anastrozole, (sold under the brand name, Arimidex), and subjects receiving those drugs along with Avemar.

Against the mouse derived estrogen receptor positive (ER+) cell line, MXT, compared to controls, Avemar inhibited growth by 50%, Exemestane by 46.7%, Tamoxifen by 34% and Anastrozole by 29.3%. Against the human ER+ cell line, T47T, Avemar inhibited growth by 49%, Tamoxifen 42%, Exemestane 25% and Anastrazole 25%. The effect of each agent was enhanced by 5 to 10% when combined with Avemar. The best result was obtained from the combination of Exemestane and Avemar, inhibiting both the mouse and human derived ER+ breast tumors by 60%.

Effects against estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer was measured with the human derived, MDA-MB-231 cell line. Since prior research shows that these estrogen-blocking drugs are not effective against ER- breast cancers, they were not tested in this tumor model. However, Avemar did inhibit the growth of the ER-negative MDA-MB-231 breast tumors significantly (52%), suggesting to researchers that the mechanism by which the extract works is different from that of the anti-estrogen drugs, and is independent of a breast tumor’s estrogen receptor status.

Since Avemar works equally well against ER+ and ER- cell lines, this suggests that the mechanisms of action by which Avemar inhibits growth in breast tumors are the same mechanisms as those that inhibited tumor growth in multiple other cell lines and tumor types against which the extract has been tested (other breast; lung, pancreatic, colon, melanoma, leukemia, and pancreatic cancers). Avemar anti-tumor effects have been attributed to several mechanisms, in particular its proven ability to interfere with the excess use of glucose by cancer cells, (the Warburg effect), which interferes with the synthesis of DNA needed for cell proliferation.

Avemar is produced by Biromedicina, RT of Budapest, Hungary through the fermentation of wheat germ by baker’s yeast according to a patented process (US no. 6,355,474) and standardized on the compound methoxy-substituted benzoquinones. The Hungarian Ministry of Health has approved Avemar as a “medical food,” with an on-label indication for the treatment of colorectal and other cancers. In the US, Avemar is distributed as a dietary supplement under the brand name Avé™, by American BioSciences, Inc. in Blauvelt, NY and is available nationwide through vitamin retailers, doctors and pharmacies. Additional research on Avemar research can be found via the National Library of Medicine website, www.pubmed.gov, with the search term Avemar. Additional information is available from American BioSciences, 888-884-7770, and www.americanbiosciences.com

Anti-Ageing ingredient found in cereals

Madrid: Polyphenols from cereal, such as wheatgerm and buckwheat, could restore the immune system function and could potentially extend lifespan, says a new animal study from a joint French and Spanish team.

The supplementation used in the present study seems to decrease the biological age of prematurely aging mice and probably can increase the longevity of these animals say the researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid and Danone Vitapole.

Polyphenol-rich fruits such as blueberries and grapes have branded by some as anti-aging foods, and, if the new research can be reproduced in humans, the could see cereals joining this group.

The cereals used in this study including wheat germ and buckwheat are rich sources of polyphenols, specifically gallic acid, catechin, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, p-coumaric acid, sinapic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and rutin.

Lead researcher Pedro Alvarez, writing in the journal nutrition said: “The present work is the first in which polyphenolic dietary supplementation was studied as a nutritional intervention targeted at age-related immune system dysfunction.”

The researchers used prematurely aging mice (PAM) and supplemented their diet with 20 per cent of one of two different cereals – wheat germ (16 mice, 518 mg/d polyphenols) or buckwheat flour (16 mice, 14 mg/d polyphenols). The cereals were provided by Danone Vitapole.

A further 26 PAM were fed a standard diet, while 30 non-PAM mice were used as a further control to compare the effects of the supplements on immune function.

Immune function was measured as innate (such as chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and natural killer activity) and acquired (such as lymphoproliferation and interleukin-2 release).

After five weeks of supplementation comparison of the two control groups (PAM and non-PAM) showed that the aged mice had significantly worse immune function than non-PAM.

When comparing the PAM control group and the two PAM supplemented groups, the researchers found that addition of the cereal polyphenols to the diet of the mice was associated with significantly improved activity of the immune system.

Increases in phagocytosis, natural killer activity, lymphoproliferation, and interleukin-2 release for both groups.

No significant differences were observed between the two cereals.

“The present work has demonstrated that dietary supplementation with cereals naturally rich in polyphenols is a nutritional strategy targeted at restoring immune function in PAM, thus leading to better health and increasing the probability of aging successfully,” concluded the researchers.

The mechanism behind the apparent benefits of the cereal polyphenols is said to involve the antioxidant activity of the cereal extracts in response to the oxidative stress associated with aging.

“The close relation between oxidative stress and the immune system implies that the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in immune cells is critical, because they need to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) to carry out their functions,” said the researchers.

“Thus, the age-related increase in oxidative stress has been found to have a profound effect on immune system competence and that antioxidants exert a favorable effect on immune system function in adults and especially in aged subjects.”

The findings are in-line with other anti-aging reports usnig polyphenols. Only recently, an animal study with Concord grape juice reported that the polyphenols in the juice were ‘reversing’ the effects of aging in the brain.

Previous research has linked polyphenols, such as catechins, epicatechins, and anthocyanins to protecting against various cancers and heart disease.