JANA: Orally-Administered Yeast Beta 1,3-Glucan Prophylactically Protects Against Anthrax Infection and Cancer in Mice

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --April 22, 2002 --A study which demonstrated that an orally-administered particulate form of yeast beta1,3-glucan may stimulate the immune system of mice to significantly reduce mortality from a lethal anthrax spore infection, is being reported in a peer-reviewed article in the Spring edition of the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association (JANA). Researchers also reported that the same orally-administrated form of beta1,3-glucan provided tumor protective effects by statistically decreasing the size and weight of tumors removed from study animals.

Researchers at Biopolymer Engineering, Inc., Eagan, Minn.; the Defence Research Establishment Suffield (DRES), Alberta, Canada; and Biophage Pharma, Inc., Montréal, Canada, found that mice treated daily with oral, yeast-derived WGP Beta Glucan for seven days prior to injection of Bacillus anthracis spores had a 100 percent survival rate, compared with 50 percent for mice in the control group. The work, the authors note, is a follow up to a decade of anthrax research at DRES, a center for chemical and biological defense within the Canadian Department of Defence.

"Up to now, there has been little data available concerning the efficacy of beta1,3-glucan when taken orally," noted JANA editor-in-chief, Mark Houston, MD, and associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "This important scientific contribution by Dr. Vetvicka and colleagues demonstrates the potential benefits of this nutraceutical product against the bio-terrorism agent, anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)."

Numerous preclinical and clinical studies have established the anti-infective and anti-tumor properties of the beta1,3-glucans, a natural, immune stimulating carbohydrate, when administered by injection. The new research, according to the authors, demonstrates that these properties can be achieved with WGP Beta Glucan in animals when delivered orally prior to a challenge.

In a separate study, researchers at the Tokyo Dental College, University of Louisville and Biopolymer Engineering demonstrated that mice in a colon cancer model treated daily with oral WGP Beta Glucan after 21 days had a 21 percent decrease in tumor weight and volume, compared with untreated mice in the control group. The treated mice were found to have increased cytokine levels IL-2 (2.3-fold), IFN-y (4.4-fold) and TNF-a (2.2-fold) over control animals.

The authors write that further research is needed to "fully understand the mechanisms mediating the anthrax and tumor-protective effect. We believe that through specific interactions between the ß-1,3-glucan active component of ImucellTM; WGP [beta glucan] and ß-1,3-glucan receptors on M-cells within Peyer¡¦s patches in the intestinal mucosa that a systemic signal provided by cytokines is elicited by the gut-associated lymphatic system that stimulates the innate immune system components (macrophages, neutrophils, and NK cells) to a higher functional level, increasing the first line of host defense mechanisms." (JANA. 2002;5(2):16-20).

In an editorial commentary that accompanies the beta 1,3-glucan studies, JANA editorial board member Russell Blaylock, MD, noted, "with the high incidence of complications associated with anthrax vaccines, an approach to protect Americans against this potential bio-terrorism agent is badly needed. Vetvicka and colleagues demonstrated in their study that the yeast derived beta1,3-glucan given orally stimulates TNF-alpha release from the machrophage, apparently overcoming inhibition by anthrax lethal toxin. This would account for the high survival rates in the beta1,3-glucan treated animals."

"It should be noted that while the data provided in the research by Vetvicka and colleagues is preliminary and needs to be confirmed by larger controlled trials, it is an important contribution that demonstrates the potential effectiveness of a nutraceutical product in treating infectious agents and tumors," noted Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, assistant clinical professor of medicine and family medicine, University of Miami School of Medicine and JANA associate editor.

The Spring 2002 edition of JANA will be available April 25. To view the study and editorial visit www.americanutra.com/Beta%20glucan%20study1.pdf

JANA, the leading journal on nutraceutical science and technology, provides peer-reviewed original research articles, review articles and clinical perspectives on nutraceuticals and integrative health issues that impact the emerging field of nutraceuticals. JANA¡¦s editorial staff is led by:

  • Editor-in-chief - Mark D. Houston, MD, SCH, FACP, associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School and medical director at Hypertension and Vascular Biology Institute and the Life Extension Institute at Saint Thomas Hospital and Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Medicine editor - Christopher M. Foley, MD, medical director at Integrative Care in St. Paul, Minnesota, and teaching faculty member at the University of Minnesota, School of Pharmacy.
  • Pharmacy editor - Allen M. Kratz, PharmD, former faculty member at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, the first pharmacist appointed to the editorial board of The Merck Manual (12th. edition), co-author of a chapter on Alternative Health Care in REMINGTON: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy (19th. edition), and founder of HVS Laboratories.
  • Associate editor - Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine and family medicine at the University of Miami, School of Medicine, appointed last year by Governor Jeb Bush to serve on the 11-member Florida Domestic Security Advisor Panel, chairman of the Florida Medical Association Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Taskforce, and board member of the Florida State University Center of Terrorism and Public Health.

About the Authors
Vaclav Vetvicka, Ph.D. is an associate professor at the Department of Pathology, Division of Experimental Immunology and Immunopathology of the School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.

Bill Kournikakis, Ph.D. is a scientist in the Chemical and Biological Defence section at Defence Research Establishment Suffield, Ralston, Alberta, Canada.

Rosemonde Mandeville, M.B., ChB., Ph.D. is president and chief executive officer of Biophage Pharma, Inc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Pauline Brousseau, Ph.D. is director of CRO and special programs at Biophage Pharma, Inc.

Gary Ostroff, Ph.D. is vice president of research & development and chief scientist at Biopolymer Engineering, Inc., Eagan, Minn.

Kiyomi Terayama, Ph.D., is a member of the Department of Pathology, Tokyo Dental College, Ichikawa General Hospital, Ichikawa City Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

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