November 12 2008 post. Some months ago, a blog reader (thank you!) brought an interesting substance to my attention. I read about it, did some research and began writing a draft, which then got pushed into the background, as sometimes happens. Then a second blog reader (thank you, too!) reminded me of its existence by sending me several studies and links. I read a few of them, added material to my original draft, and plan to read more on this topic when I have more time (…in the next century, perhaps…hah!). This has been a long work in progress.
The substance is called Avemar, a “nontoxic fermented wheat germ extract demonstrated to significantly improve the survival rate in patients suffering from various malignancies.” This quote, containing an unfortunate split infinitive (sorry, can’t help it), is taken from a study carried out on HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells (see abstract: http://tinyurl.com/yrk3w6) published in “Cancer Letters” in June 2007. Apoptosis occurred in as much as 85% of these cells. Not too shabby, eh!
A 2005 study (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/2vjxkh) reports that Avemar inhibits the proliferation and SURVIVAL of myeloid cells. Yes! I still have to go through this particular study in more detail, though, so I will only mention it.
Another 2005 study (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/5eueyu), published in the “NY Academy of Sciences,” discusses the wonders of this substance, which apparently has been used favorably in the treatment of a bunch of human cancers, notably ovarian cancer, gastric cancer, thyroid cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Very interesting.
Let’s have a look at the introduction, which gives a detailed description of Avemar: Wheat germ, if left in flour, has an adverse effect on the functional properties of dough and therefore on breadmaking quality. […] During the 1990s, a new, fermented wheat germ extract for human consumption was invented by Professor Máté Hidvégi in Hungary. The standardized manufacturing technology included the extraction of wheat germ, the fermentation of the extract, followed by separation of the fermentation liquid, microencapsulation, drying, and granulation. The resulting powder was named Avemar pulvis (or simply Avemar), and the granulate is also known as Avemar. As you can see, the extraction process would not be easy to replicate in your own kitchen!
Interesting bit of info: A way for tumors to survive in the host environment is to evade the defense control of the host by mimicking themselves as normal cells for the survey of the immune system. Cancer cells use a lot of proteins called MHC-I to hide from our Natural Killer (=NK) cells. The study points out that As Avemar reduces the MHC-I level on human tumor cells, it may sensitize them against NK killing, thus reducing their metastatic activity. Aha!
Another important thing: we all know that cancer cells love glucose. They are addicted to it. Well, Avemar reduces the flow of glucose into cancer cells, and that is fabulous news indeed. In fact, this particular activity of Avemar enables cancer patients, even in advanced stages, to gain weight. This has been observed in vivo. Oh, the study also tells us that Avemar is a COX-inhibitor (both Cox-1 and 2), so it apparently is beneficial also to folks suffering from arthritis and rheumathoid arthritis.
The issue of safety is also discussed. Avemar has been tested both on animals and humans. In fact, cancer patients in Hungary have been taking Avemar for years in order to reduce chemotherapy side effects, thus improving their quality of life. Only a few mild adverse effects such as diarrhea and constipation (not occurring at the same time, I would imagine…) have been reported. You can read about those and also the warnings for gluten-intolerant patients (etc.) in this Sloan-Kettering report: http://tinyurl.com/6ox9ov.
I found a 2007 abstract that also mentions the issue of safety, reaching the same conclusions (see: http://tinyurl.com/5davx3). This particular study also mentions that cancer patients given as many as 8.5 grams a day had reduced side effects from chemotherapy. And, importantly, Avemar did not lessen the effects of chemotherapy. On the contrary, it may have a synergistic effect with certain drugs such as tamoxifen.
More on the issue of chemotherapy. My second blog reader also sent me a study published in 2002. Since the full study is available online (http://tinyurl.com/6×5tdu), I won’t but mention it here, but do urge those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy to have a look at it and perhaps bring up the subject with their oncologists. You see, the study makes an important claim: Avemar is a dietary supplement to be given to cancer patients to help drugs to work better. Toward the end, you can read that colorectal cancer patients who took Avemar didn’t progress as quickly as those who didn’t (=controls), and also lived longer. A curiosity: the Avemar-takers had significantly more advanced disease stages. So they started off in a worse position than the controls but ended up in a much better one. Interesting.
Avemar was recently used in a Phase II trial in high-risk melanoma patients (see: http://tinyurl.com/5qkezw). Based on their findings, the researchers recommend The inclusion of Avemar into the adjuvant protocols of high-risk skin melanoma patients […]. Well, this is all quite impressive, I must say.
If someday my cancer progresses to the point where I may need chemotherapy, I will be sure to order some of this stuff…provided my haematologist agrees, of course.