Shark Derivatives

Scientific names: Squalus acanthias (spiny dogfish shark), Sphyrna lewini (Hammerhead Shark) and other shark species.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Shark Derivatives?

Shark cartilage is prepared from the cartilage of freshly caught sharks in the Pacific Ocean. The cartilage is cut from the shark, cleaned, shredded, and dried. One of the main processing plants for dogfish shark is in Costa Rica. The finely ground cartilage is uniformly pulverized (in a 200 mesh screen), sterilized, and encapsulated.

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Squalamine originally was isolated from shark stomachs, but has subsequently been synthesized. This compound is still in the experimental stage and is not yet commercially available.

What is it used for?

Anticancer

Early claims were made that extracts of shark cartilage inhibited tumors. The rationale includes the fact that sharks rarely get cancer, that sharks are cartilaginous fish and that cartilage is avascular (without blood vessels) and contains agents that inhibit vascularization (blood vessel genesis). The reasoning then follows that sharks do not get cancer because the inhibited vascularization prevents the formation of tumors. Hence, giving it to humans may inhibit tumor angiogenesis and cure cancer.

The active principle(s) has not been found, although some believe it might be a protein. The shark cartilage was thought to be a cancer control agent. Several studies have been done on various sharks, but none have proven this theory. Clinical studies must be undertaken to prove any of the anticancer effects of shark derivatives.

Other uses

Squalamine has been used as a potent antibiotic with fungicidal and antiprotozoal activity.

What is the recommended dosage?

A standardized shark cartilage product has been marketed under the name Neovastat (AE-941). Clinical trials in cancer angiogenesis have used doses of 60 to 240 mL daily, while another trial of a liquid shark cartilage product used only 7 to 21 mL daily.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Research reveals little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of shark derivatives.

Toxicities

Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicology with the use of shark derivatives.

References

  1. Shark Derivatives. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2004. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 23, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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