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Anti-Cancer Fucoidans Extracted from Brown Marine Algae; May be Used in Functional Beverages

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: fucoidans, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) A team of researchers has developed a method for extracting fucoidans and other polysaccharides from brown marine algae, and is working to develop commercial beverage applications for the ingredient. The research was presented at the Health Sea International Symposium in Granville, France.

The researchers have managed to extract three different varieties of polysaccharides from the algae: alginates, fucoidans and laminaran.

Industrially synthesized alginates are currently used as thickeners and stabilizers in products such as salad dressings. Yet the researchers found that unlike the synthesized varieties, the extracted alginates appeared to demonstrate anti-bacterial properties.

The extracts were tested against nine bacteria, including E. coli, staphycococcus, salmonella and listeria. They appeared to be effective against E. coli and staphycococcus. "Sodium alginate seems to demonstrate a strong anti-bacterial element," said researcher Franck Hennequart. "It not only binds but kills."

Laminarans are used in horticulture, and no other applications are known to date. However, studies have suggested that both laminarans and fucoidans have immune-boosting, cancer-fighting and anti-viral properties. In studies conducted on the extracts, the researchers found that fucoidan appeared to function as a good prebiotic (a substance that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines). The researchers also found an anti-inflammatory effect from some of the extracts.

As part of the next step in developing commercial products from the extracts, the researchers are testing them for toxicity on rats. According to the scientists, no toxic effects have emerged to date.

Other obstacles to be overcome before commercialization include quality control standardization and a way to extract the polysaccharides on an industrial scale.

The researchers have contracted with an Ireland-based beverage company to develop products for the Japanese market. They are currently testing the extracts in beverages including ice tea, orange juice and water.

The global market in so-called functional foods and drinks, which provide a health benefit, is anticipated to grow by 14 percent per year until 2010.

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