Beta Glucan for Boosting the Immune System

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The immune system is the most important aspect in fighting cancer. Knowing what your immune system does and why it is so important in the fight against cancer is the first step to healing your body from in the inside out.

The immune system is made up of cells, tissues, proteins, chemicals and organs that work together to defend us against infectious organisms and other invaders. The white blood cells that make up the immune system are made in the bone marrow. These cells move through blood & tissue. Every time a microbe or germ is conquered, the immune system remembers it. If the body comes into contact with that microbe again, it will be defeated quickly.

The proteins of the immune system are called antibodies that can help neutralize infection or toxins that some germs produce. In most cases, our immune system does a great job of keeping us healthy and preventing infections, but sometimes problems with the immune system can lead to illness and infection such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory responses and in worst cases, cancer.  

Approximately 70 – 80% of your immune tissue is located within your digestive system. The health of your gut bacteria and the health of your immune system are vitally linked. When your gut bacteria is balanced, your immune system is also balanced. 

Now that you understand how critical the immune system is you may be wondering, what went wrong with my immune system and how can I help it? Well, not every type of cancer is caused by a unhealthy immune system, but that doesn't mean that you can't help your immune system be the best it can be. If you are going through cancer treatments or suffering from autoimmune conditions, you are probably filling your body with toxins to try and kill all of the bad cells, but those toxins are killing off all of the good cells too. A supplement that  has come to the forefront recently to help aide the immune system during treatment is β-Glucan. 

Technically beta glucan is an immunomodulator which helps make your immune system smarter. It can help raise your immune system’s response so your body can naturally fight off and kill cancer. Beta glucan modulates or activates, but never over stimulates, which is key to its safety. In addition, glucan is one of the few natural immunomodulators for which we know not only the composition but also the mechanism of action. Medical doctors are finding and proving that it has many benefits, not only in helping the immune system, but also in combination with certain drugs.

First use of beta glucan as an immunostimulant for human cancer therapy was Brown Cancer researchers, led by Dr. Gordon Ross.  He discovered that beta-glucan can enhance the immune response in mice with injected tumors. This treatment is now being tested for the first time in humans at the University of Louisville and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York which is where Kellen is treated and is also a part of this study. I have listed below the studies that have taken place with beta glucan. 

Studies on beta glucan and cancer

Cancer and Tumors

  • Beta 1,3-Glucan Cancer Research (overview of research)
  • β-Glucans in promoting health: Prevention against mutation and cancer
    (Mutation Research 2007)
  • Medicinal importance of fungal β-(1-3), (1-6)-glucans
    (Mycological Research 2007)
  • Therapeutic Intervention with complement and β-Glucan in Cancer
    (Immunopharmacology 1999)
  • Oral β-Glucan adjuvant therapy converts nonprotective Th2 response to protective Th1 cell-mediated immune response in mammary tumor-bearing mice
    (Folia Histochemica et Cytobiologica)
  • β-Glucan, a “Specific” Biologic Response Modifier That Uses Antibodies to Target Tumors for Cytotoxic Recognition by Leukocyte Complement Receptor Type 3 (CD11b/CD18)1
    (The American Association of Immunologists 1999)
  • CR3 (CD1 ib, CD18): a phagocyte and NK cell membrane receptor with multiple ligand specificities and functions
    (Clinical and Experimental Immunology 1993)
  • Regulation of CR3 (CD11b/CD18)-dependent natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity by tumor target cell MHC class I molecules
    (Clinical and Experimental Immunology 1999)
  • Soluble b-Glucan Polysaccharide Binding to the Lectin Site of Neutrophil or Natural Killer Cell Complement Receptor Type 3 (CD11b/CD18) Generates a Primed State of the Receptor Capable of Mediating Cytotoxicity of iC3b-Opsonized Target Cells
    (Journal of Clinical Investigation 1996)
  • Effects of β-glucans on benign hyperplasia of prostate
    (Herbert Open Access Journals, Pathology Discovery 2014)
  • The application of fungal β-glucans for the treatment of colon cancer
    (Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry 2013)
  • β-Glucans and their applications in cancer therapy: focus on human studies.
    (Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry 2013)

Chemotherapy and Radiation

  • Beta 1,3-Glucan Radiation Research (overview of research)
  • Effect of Beta Glucan on White Blood Cell Counts and Serum Levels of IL-4 and IL-12 in Women with Breast Cancer Undergoing Chemotherapy: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
    (Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 2014)
  • Positive Effects of Oral β-Glucan on Mucositis and Leukopenia in Colorectal Cancer Patients Receiving Adjuvant FOLFOX-4 Combination Chemotherapy
    (Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 2014)
  • Oral WGP Beta Glucan Treatment Accelerates Myeloid Recovery after Radiation Exposure
    (BTR: Unified Science & Technology for Reducing Biological Threats and Countering Terrorism 2003)
  • Glucan-immunostimulant, adjuvant, potential drug
    (World Journal of Clinical Oncology 2011)
  • Orally Administered marine (1-3)-β-D-glucan Phycarine stimulates both humoral and cellular immunity
    (International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 2007)

Monoclonal Antibodies and Cancer

  • Yeast-Derived B-Glucan Augments the Therapeutic Efficacy mediated by Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Monoclonal Antibody in Human Carcinoma Xenograft Models (Clinical Cancer Research 2008)
  • Beta-Glucan enhanced killing of renal cell carcinoma micrometastases by monoclonal antibody G250 directed complement activation
    (International Journal of Cancer 2004)
  • Oral (1-3),(1-4)-B-D-Glucan Synergizes with Antiganglioside GD2 Monoclonal antibody 3F8 in the Therapy of Neuroblastoma
    (Clinical Cancer Research 2002)
  • Yeast whole glucan particle (WGP) β-Glucan in conjunction with antitumor monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer
    (Expert Opinion in Biological Therapy 2005)
  • β-Glucan Functions as an adjuvant for monoclonal antibody immunotherapy by recruiting tumoricidal granulocytes as Killer Cells
    (The Journal of Cancer Research 2003)
  • Mechanism by which orally administered β-1,3-Glucans enhance the tumoricidal activity of antitumor monoclonal antibodies in murine tumor models
    (Journal of Immunology 2004)
  • C5a-Medicated Leukotriene B4-Amplified Neutrophil Chemotaxis is essential in tumor immunotherapy facilitated by Anti-Tumor monoclonal antibody and β-Glucan
    (Journal of Immunology 2005)