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Caribbean sea cucumber may help treat cancer

Harold Mandel's picture
Sea cucumber

Researchers have discovered an active agent taken from the Caribbean sea cucumber may help improve treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.


There has been a growing awareness of the power of nutritional factors to help fight cancer. Researchers now believe an agent found in the Caribbean sea cucumber can help treat a very serious type of cancer known as malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma may be improved with an active agent which is found in the Caribbean sea cucumber

The Medical University of Vienna reports that treatment for this cancer may be improved with an active agent found in the Caribbean sea cucumber. A new option to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma has been developed by researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Medical University of Vienna and Vienna General Hospital.

These researchers have showed for the first time in a preclinical study that trabectedin, which is a chemotherapy drug that is already being successfully used for other kinds of cancer, is also effective in fighting malignant pleural mesothelioma. The active agent in trabectedin originally comes from the Caribbean sea cucumber, which is a marine-dwelling tunicate.

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Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer which has an association with asbestos

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer. However there has been an increase in the incidence of this cancer.This is an extremely aggressive type of cancer which has an association with asbestos.The treatment for this cancer generally consists of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

The prognosis is very poor because this cancer generally develops resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Trabectedin from the Caribbean sea cucumber has been found to offer hope in improving treatment for this cancer.

The results of this study have been published in "Molecular Cancer Therapeutics". This is a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) which is therapy-oriented. Initial results from a clinical study from Italy have confirmed the results from this study and show that they can be transferred to clinical practice.

The Caribbean sea cucumber may really hold the key to fighting malignant pleural mesothelioma and other types of cancer. Trabectedin has already been used successfully clinically to treat ovarian cancer and malignant soft tissue tumours.



Amazing discovery! But to ascribe a tunicate's anticancer effects to a sea cucumber is akin to putting "legs on a snake." Not only do they not belong, but a sea cucumber does quite well by itself, (thank you very much).....in providing promising anticancer agents. For example, let's try googling "Frondoside A," or "Frondanol A5," or "fucosylated chondroitin sulfate." Or go to Google Scholar and type in "sea cucumber" and the word, "cancer." No, the lowly sea cucumber does not need the help of Tunicates to get respect in the notable club of marine anticancer agents.