One of the biggest problems in conventional myeloma treatment is called MRD ( = Minimum Residual Disease). What happens is that no matter what we do, no matter how much chemo we throw at our myeloma cells, no matter how many stem cells transplants we have, we won’t be able to eradicate myeloma completely. Some of these pesky cells are in fact able to develop a resistance to, and thus escape, the killing effects of any current myeloma treatment. These are the chemoresistant baddies, the really tough guys in the myeloma neighborhood, the Voldemorts of myeloma. The ones that can’t be killed off…
So today’s question is: is there a way we might be able to get rid of MRD once and for all? The answer is: possibly.
This morning, while I was checking my daily alerts, I found an interesting tidbit: http://goo.gl/oShVH Scroll down the page, and you will find a brief mention of something called fucoidan, a polysaccharide found in brown seaweed. What I read intrigued me.
I immediately dashed to PubMed to see if fucoidan had been studied in connection to myeloma. Yes, it has. Here is the abstract of a fascinating study published in January 2013: http://goo.gl/lZ9U3
In a nutshell, a group of Chinese researchers discovered that fucoidan can PREVENT myeloma cells from avoiding the toxic effects of chemotherapy. When fucoidan was added to a drug used in myeloma treatment, cytarabine, the latter was able to reach and destroy ALL of the myeloma cells. All of them.
No more MRD.
Hmmm, I wonder if fucoidan would work with other, commonly-used myeloma drugs, too. With that in mind, I suggest that we add fucoidan to our list of things to bring up with our doctors and with our myeloma organizations (wouldn’t it be great if the IMF or the MMRF funded some of this new, promising research???).
There is more good news. Even though the full fucoidan study isn’t available for free online, you can scroll down and look at the Figures. Figure 2 has an interesting bit of news: the researchers found that fucoidan inhibits the growth of RPMI8226 and U266 cells (those are two important myeloma cells lines often used in research studies).
And the abstract tells us that fucoidan decreases the levels of CXCR4, MMP9 and RHoC expression in our myeloma cells. Very good news indeed.
This means that we all (that is, even those of us who aren’t doing any chemo) might be well advised to including brown seaweed into our diet…or even a fucoidan supplement. I’m seriously considering it. But I need to do some more research, when I can find the time…
In the meantime, I’d like to ask you all a question: is anyone already taking fucoidan? If so, with what results? It would be super duper to have some independent (ONLY!) feedback on this issue.
UPDATE. I just got a note from a blog reader who took a 500 mg kelp supplement many years ago. Well, it had a very negative effect on her thyroid function, which was apparently caused by the iodine AND by an allergy to seafood (the two seem to be connected…that is, if you are allergic to seafood, you are sensitive to iodine, too). Therefore, if you decide to begin taking fucoidan, do make sure it’s safe for YOU! And, in any case, start with a small dose…