Seaweed extracts could inhibit cancer cell growth, says Australian biotech

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Cancer Chemotherapy

Seaweed extracts can reduce tumour growth and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy says Marinova, which is developing the compounds for pharmaceutical applications.

Preclinical study results – published​ in the journalIntegrative Cancer Therapies​ – showed two compounds extracted from seaweed were found to halt the cell cycle, and prevent cancer cells from dividing and spreading, said Marinova spokesperson Claire Smoorenburg. 

“In an oncology setting, fucoidan [seaweed extract] acts via a number of cell pathways leading to cell cycle arrest in the first growth phase (G1) or cancer cell lines,” ​she told us.

According to the Australian firm, the compounds can increase the expression of antibodies and immune markers, immunoglobulin G(IgG) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) in cancer-affected mice.

In preclinical studies, fucoidan also improved the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen in mice with breast cancer, we were told.

The firm now has a human interaction study underway in the US, which aims to further investigate fucoidan extracts in combination with chemotherapy to assess the safety and quality of life parameters in cancer patients, said Smoorenburg.

“Building on this preclinical research, we now have a human interaction study underway in the US,” ​she added


Marinova extracts its fucoidans using aqueous, solvent-free technology developed and used exclusively by Marinova.

“This extraction process uses green chemistry principles to retain the natural bioactivity of fucoidan without the use of any chemical solvents,” ​she told us.

Commercial potential?

Smoorenburg told us the firm sees opportunity for these natural compounds to be commercialised as complementary therapies.

“There is also considerable scope for the company to develop highly characterised pharmaceutical fractions for further pharmaceutical research in the oncology space,” ​she told us.

“Marinova will continue to consider the commercial position of its fucoidan extracts as new research findings come to light,” ​she added. 

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