One of the major benefit of fucoidan is that it induces apoptosis. Apoptosis is the process that causes the death of cells as a normal part of the development and growth and an organism. Apoptosis is beneficial as it helps the cancerous cells to commit suicide. Some research has indicated that the active component of brown seaweeds, which is fucoidan, helps in the death of several dangerous and tumor containing cells. People of different countries, especially those living in Japan and Korea, have been eating brown seaweeds as a part of their diet for a long time. Fucoidan is extracted from brown seaweeds and structurally it consists of many polymers which are formed by branched polysaccharides sulfate esters having L fucose building block. There have also been some recent studies which indicate that fucoidan induces apoptosis in cancerous cells. But the whole mechanism is a bit doubtful because it is still uncertain which sequence  of fucoidan plays an important role in the process of apoptosis. A study was recently conducted in Japan in the Kyushu University. The study showed that fucoidan induces apoptosis in the breast cancer cells (MCF-7) and it doesn’t affect the normal epithelial cells. Caspase-8 is also considered very important for the apoptosis induced by fucoidan. Another study was conducted as late as Sep 2014 by researchers S. Chen and Y.Zhao (1). The study was basically done to know about the anti-cancer properties of fucoidan. The results of the study showed that fucoidan has anti-cancerous properties. The results also showed that there is some evidence of the therapeutic application of fucoidan in cancer. 

2. Angiogenesis inhibition

Angiogenesis basically means the  formation of new blood vessels. It has been seen that angiogenesis plays a key role in the promotion of cancer. Some recent studies have indicated that the sulfated polysaccharides inhibit angiogenesis. The anti-tumor activity of fucoidan has gotten special attention recently. The anti-tumor effect of “Mekabu” fucoidan is effected by IFN-y-activated NK cells. It has also been observed that the antitumor activity of fucoidan is due to its anti-angiogenic potential. Scientists at the Qingdao University recently evaluated several harvested tumors in order to know the effect of fucoidan on angiogenesis.

The results of the study showed that fucoidan causes a significant decrease in the intratumoral expression of blood vessles as compared to the control group. The scientists also studied the effect of fucoidan on lung metastasis of breast cancer in the same study. It was found that 4T1 cells is highly invasive in spreading breast cancer cell lines. Scientists euthanized mice to find the effect of fucoidan on 4T1 tumor. The results of the study showed that fucoidan results in fewer lung metastasis. The total number of nodules per mouse in the control group were 34. Another study was recently conducted in China in the Dalian Medical University to find the effect of fucoidan on angiogenesis (2). The researchers of the study took umbilical vein endothelial cells and found out the anti-angiogenic activity of fucoidan extracted from brown seaweed. 

The researchers of the study treated the HUVECs with different concentrations of fucoidan. The results of this study showed that fucoidan helps in the inhibition of cell migration, cell proliferation and tube formation.

To be continued


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