Fucoidan prevents multiple myeloma cell escape from chemotherapy-induced drug cytotoxicity.

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. 

Thanks! 🙂

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…


  1. I was told about this last year by a naturopath. He said it was for getting rid of heavy metals. The brand is Modifilan, pure brown seaweed extract. Time to start taking it again. Gosh darn, I hope it is not too late.

  2. Wonderfully promising! How amazing would it be to find something that would actually reach and destroy all myeloma cells!! Will be looking for an update. Thanks for being a super sleuth!

  3. Thank you so much Margaret for this news item, will search for a good source immediately. If anybody else has more info on which brand, please let us know, thanks, again Margaret

  4. Very interesting to read Margaret. I was googling and found a long article by Dr. Daisuke Tachikawa (keywords: daisuke tachikawa fucoidan doc). What I’ve read so far sounds good!

  5. Maybe also interesting to read (difficult, but with important notes): Fucoidan: Structure and Bioactivity. In the conclusion to read: The fucoidans or brown algae are complex and heterogeneous, and their structures have not refined leg very clear until now. However, Their biological activities are so attractive (!) that much research is being done On Their structures and bioactivities every year. There is a section entitled ‘Antitumor and immunomodulatory activity’. You can find the article on http://www.mdpi.com with keywords: Ascophyllum nodosum Fucoidan.

  6. I’m still googling and found this: Fucoidan Induces Apoptosis of Human HS-Sultan Cells Accompanied by Activation of Caspase-3 and Down-Regulation of ERK Pathways. I think here too, something is said about fucoidan and MM.

    I wonder what the significance of this study is, i read: These results demonstrate that fucoidan has direct anti-cancer effects on human HS-Sultan cells through caspase and ERK pathways. Margaret, do you know what it means?

    It is the first hit when you search with the keywords: fucoidan multiple myeloma pdf

  7. It appears that fucoidans are the active ingredients that comes from the various studies regarding mushrooms and cancer

  8. Hi, i am based in England, UK and my son was diagnosed with Lymphoma just days ago. He is seeing a consultant on Wednesday 28th August ( 2 days after his 18th birthday) …sucks … fortunatley his father’s wife is japenese. I don’t believe chemo works but at this stage i have no choice but to let him have it, but if i could just try it will help me get over the pain of seeing him suffer mentally. He is being real brave. MY QUESTION IS can he have the chemo whilst taking the fucoidan, and what dosage should he take? and do you know of any seminars taking place in the states in the fall. Thank you

  9. At our clinic, we have been using Fucoidan for years. One prostate cancer patient got complete remsion just on Fucoidan. This was reported at one of the national cancer meeting several years ago. Yet, fucoidan does not cure any cancer, so we are trying to use cocktails to achieve better results. One thing is for sure, fucoidan is completely non-toxic!

    Paul Zhang, http://www.i2b.us

  10. Wow, thanks for this info. I am a MM patient. Been on chemo and had a stem cell transplant. I am 94 percent in remission. I work at a healthfood store and two ladies recently walked in to cell bottles of flucoidan. I ignored them, but yesterday I listened and researched it. I am so excited to see this and will go to their home on thursday to learn more. I do believe we can cure MM and get rid of it naturally when we have brought it more under control and allow our immune system to do the last bit. Sounds like flucoidan might be what is the last defense to completely eradicate it. I am willing to believe :>):>) Keep the Hope, keep the Faith, believe that there is a cure out there and put it all behind us !!!!

  11. I started taking fucoidan 6 weeks ago. The first two weeks I took 1 pill daily (300mg standardized to 70% fucoidan), and then increased it to 2 pills. I am IGA smoldering for 2 1/2 years, but my IGA continues to increase about 50 points a month (2683). In addition to various supplements, I take curcumin. I will get my blood work done again in January (after 3 months on fucoidan) and will report if there is a difference in my progression. Laura

      1. Today I received my lab results from last week, and to my disappointment, there was no improvements after taking fucoidan for three months. I am still smoldering with no CRAB symptoms, but my IGA jumped from 2683 to 3049. Also, my M-spike went from 1.0 to 1.1, but free light chains went down from 1194 to 940. I am happy to still be “smoldering,” but my numbers are getting worse and this is discouraging. I haven’t decided whether I will continue with the fucoidan and give it another 3 months. Perhaps others are giving it a try and will report their findings. Laura

  12. To Laura,
    Did you use an oversulfated form of fucoidan from the brown seaweed strain of Cladosiphon Okamuranus Tokida? The oversulfated form seems to be a crucial factor.

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