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Wheat Germ Extract Inhibits Breast Cancer in Study

CHICAGO, A fermented wheat germ extract inhibits estrogen positive and estrogen negative breast cancer tumors better than the world's best selling cancer drug, Tamoxifen, according to research published this past weekend at the 2007 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, ASCO.

The compound, Avemar, has been extensively studied in many cell lines, animal tumor models, and several human clinical trials. In the current study, Andras Telekes, MD, Ph.D., head physician at the Hungarian National Institute of Oncology, and colleagues, implanted estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast tumors from humans and mouse cell lines into female mice and monitored tumor growth.

They compared tumor growth in mice treated with Avemar alone, or treated with three of the most widely used and studied breast cancer drugs: Tamoxifen, Aromasin, or Arimidex, alone, and combinations of those drugs with Avemar.

Against the mouse ER+ cell line, MXT, Avemar inhibited growth by 50%, Aromasin by 46.7%, Tamoxifen by 34% and Arimidex by 29.3%. Against the human ER+ cell line, T47T, Avemar inhibited growth by 49%, Tamoxifen 42%, Aromasin 25% and Arimidex 25%. Each agent was enhanced by 5 to 10% when combined with Avemar. Most effective was a combination of Aromasin and Avemar, inhibiting both the mouse and human derived ER+ breast tumors by 60%.

Effects against estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer were measured with the human derived, MDA-MB-231 cell line. Estrogen-blocking drugs are not effective against ER- breast cancers, so they were not tested in this tumor model. However, Avemar did inhibit the growth of the ER-negative MDA-MB-231 breast tumors significantly (52%), suggesting to researchers that the mechanism by which the extract works is different from that of the anti- estrogen drugs, and is independent of a breast tumor's estrogen receptor status.

Avemar's effic acy against both ER+ and ER- tumor types suggests the compound's mechanisms of action against breast cancer may be those that inhibited tumor growth in other cancers, including lung, pancreatic, colon, melanoma, leukemia, and other breast cancer lines, among others, against which the compound has also been tested. Chief among these mechanisms is its ability to interfere with the excess use of glucose by cancer cells (the Warburg effect), which interferes with the synthesis of DNA needed for cell proliferation.


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