A new review by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine highlights a large body of published research demonstrating how modified citrus pectin (MCP), works against cancer. The study, which was published on April 18 in the American Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, also examines MCP's synergistic relationship with chemotherapy, as well as its ability to modulate immunity, safely remove heavy metals and block the pro-inflammatory protein galectin-3.
"This review does an excellent job consolidating our knowledge about modified citrus pectin's remarkable therapeutic impact," says integrative medicine researcher and MCP co-developer, Isaac Eliaz , M.D. "In particular, it identifies MCP's different mechanisms of action against metastatic cancer, heavy metal toxicity and chronic, life threatening illnesses related to excess galectin-3."
The Development of Modified Citrus Pectin
While plant pectins have long been known to support digestive and immune health through their actions in the GI tract, the main obstacle preventing them from exerting systemic benefits throughout the body has been their bio-availability. The long complex soluble fibers in regular pectin are simply too large to be absorbed into the circulation. This problem was solved with the development of MCP, which is prepared from regular citrus pectin using a modification process to reduce the size and cross branching of the pectin molecules. The modification allows MCP to easily absorb into the circulation and exert numerous therapeutic effects throughout the body, now demonstrated in multiple peer reviewed studies.
For example, the review discusses MCP's ability to control metastatic melanoma, as well as prostate, breast and colon cancers. These outcomes have been confirmed in multiple published studies, which have also shown MCP's ability to suppress angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth to tumors). Blocking angiogenesis is a key factor in preventing cancer metastasis.
MCP has also been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Apoptosis, known as programmed cell death, is suppressed in tumors, allowing them to grow uncontrollably. Numerous studies show MCP supports apoptosis in cancer, including a 2010 study from Columbia University which found that MCP induced apoptosis in both androgen dependent and androgen independent prostate cancer cells. This is particularly significant because androgen independent prostate cancer is a highly aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancer.
Other important findings demonstrate MCP's abilities to make chemotherapy more effective. Co-administering MCP with cisplatin, etoposide or doxorubicin makes cancer cells more sensitive to these frontline treatments. MCP is also useful during radiation therapy, helping to protect organs from the damaging inflammatory effects of radiation.
Natural Galectin-3 Blocker
One of the active, "culprit" biomarkers in cancer progression is the cell signaling protein, galectin-3. Elevated levels of this protein are directly linked with the development, progression and metastasis of many cancers, as well as chronic diseases related to inflammation and fibrosis. Large scale clinical studies demonstrate the direct involvement of galectin-3 in cardiovascular disease and heart failure, while other studies highlight its role in kidney fibrosis, liver failure, arthritis and other pro-inflammatory diseases. Galectin-3 is a sticky, cell surface molecule that allows cancer cells to aggregate and metastasize. It also drives the processes of chronic inflammation and the progression of inflammation to fibrosis within organs and tissues, leading to organ failure. By binding to galectin-3, MCP inactivates the protein, limiting cancer cell adhesion and reducing progression of numerous chronic diseases.
MCP has also been shown to increase immune activity against human leukemia cells, by significantly enhancing activation of NK cells and increasing their functionality against leukemia. Furthermore, a number of clinical trials show MCP's abilities to safely remove heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic and others from the circulation, without affecting essential mineral levels.
These additional functions increase MCP's therapeutic value in treating and preventing cancer and other chronic illnesses. Because of its multiple mechanisms of action, MCP is proving to be an important adjuvant therapy against even the most difficult, treatment-resistant cancers. With more than 12 million cancer patients in the U.S., this is an important development.
"The more we learn about MCP, the more impressive it becomes," says Dr. Eliaz. "With its ability to control aggressive cancers, reduce inflammation, enhance immunity, chelate heavy metals and work synergistically with a variety of chemotherapeutic agents, it has earned an important role within anti-cancer and chronic disease protocols."