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Medical Shark extract and medicine

  1. Nov 10, 2003 #1

    Monique

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    1. how is it aquired? I have heard sharkes are pulled out of the sea, finns cut off, and thrown back to drown.

    2. what is it good for? Has research proven the medicinal powers of diverse shark extracts (against calcification, inflammation, tumors)?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2003 #2
    What's red and green and goes real fast? A frog in a blender.

    It was a biologist who told be that joke, so don't get mad at me. But it illustrates a point that with "lower" life forms biologist will some times just mince them all up and extract what they're looking for. I knew a undergraduate research student whose job it was to take juvenile zebra fish to the mortar and pestil. Obviously this wouldn't apply very well to Great White Sharks, it's hard to get them to hold still, but yes, usually the organism is killed in the extraction of a new natural product. Of course once you've got the natural product characterized, we synthetic organic chemists can take over.

    Specific natural products from sharks I don't know. Although I'd imagine there's a few and with a wide variety of activities. There's one isolated from the skin of a golden hammerhead shark, although what its structure is, name is, and activity is I don't know.
     
  4. Nov 10, 2003 #3

    NateTG

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    I'm not sure what you're talking about but:

    Shark meat is edible (tasty and boneless too) so there is a natural market for most of the fish, even if they are harvested for something else.

    Finning sharks as you described is illegal, and has to do with shark-fin-soup because the fins are more valuable than the rest of the fish.

    Apparently there is some kind of shark cartilage related drug that prevents vascular systems from forming in tumors. I expect that sharks are caught and cut up into cartilage rich sections, fins, meat, and internals and sold in parts like other fish. (Shark liver oil is popular stuff too.)
     
  5. Nov 10, 2003 #4

    Monique

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    Well, the only thing I know is that I once saw a documentary which told that sharks are caught just for the cartilege in their finns, the rest of the body is too expensive to process and is thus thrown back.

    As for the diseases, I also once saw a documentary on a human disease where muscle tissue actually calcifies and turns into bone. The shark helped in pointing to a chemical which prevents tissues to turn to bone (as a shark doesn't have any bones, only cartilege).

    Sharks are also said not to develop any tumors, because the growth of new blood vessels is prevented (or something).

    I was wondering, have any treatments really been implemented and where do the sharks come from and how is it regulated? You just don't grow them in a basin I guess??

    The reason I bring this up, is that my mother had bought an over-the-counter medicine with shark fins in it, to keep the muscles souple. I told her the shark story, how they are thrown back. I am now wondering how up-to-date and accurate that information is, and also whether that medicine would really work?
     
  6. Nov 10, 2003 #5
    Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Japan and is the leading source for the decline of many shark stocks. As for alternative eastern medicines, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was also the case. As for traditional medicine and natural products, unless the natural supply is readily and easily available, most drugs made from natural products are synthesized artificially. Take taxol. Taxol comes from the bark Pacific Yew tree. This tree is only found in a few old growth forests in washington state and british columbia. Harvesting all of the trees of there bark would only produce a small amount of taxol, and furthermore the old growth forests are home to many other endangered species such as the spotted owl. This leads to a great demand among synthetic organic chemists, such as myself, to come up with a formal synthesis of taxol, or other natural products, from more readily available starting materials. Today, the taxol that's used to treat breast cancer is made synthetically from a starting material isolated from a common european yew bush.

    I can't think of any traditional medication that is routinely harvested from an animal like a shark.
     
  7. Nov 10, 2003 #6

    Monique

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    Thanks, I didn't think of that.

    About the taxol, I remember a few years back people were encouraged to plant Taxol trees and during a few weeks in the year, trimming season, the cut-off branches were collected to isolate the breast-cancer therapeutic..

    you are saying that this now all goes synthetically?
     
  8. Nov 10, 2003 #7

    iansmith

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    that's false
    here's the proof
    http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/home00/apr00/sharks.html

    but a chemical extracted from cartillage has been show to have Antiangiogenic and antimetastatic properties.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/...ve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11964078&dopt=Abstract

    Here more info
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/pdq/cam/cartilage

    Are you sure it is a medicine. sound to me that it's a nutraceutical agent.

    Anyway, the compound could also be produce using a protein expression organism. You clone the gene and overexpress it in yeast or bacteria. Insuline is produce that way.
     
  9. Nov 11, 2003 #8

    Another God

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    Love your work Ian. Always coming up with the goods when no one has any clue what's going on

    My GF says that she knows someone who has had cancer since he was a teenager (he's now 50 something years old), and the whole time he has just taken shark cartlidge pills whenever he has a problem with the tumours (or something like that) and the tumours always regress.

    Thats the story, whether u want to accept it, put it down to placebo, ignore it or whatever... I don't really care. I just thought it was an interesteing relevent story
    bye
     
  10. Nov 11, 2003 #9

    Monique

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    I am continueing my investigation, on the package insert it says it contains:

    "freeze dried shark cartilage concentrate"

    yes, it is not a medicine, a supplement would be a better word I guess
     
  11. Nov 13, 2003 #10

    adrenaline

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    Here is a link to an ongoing double blinded, placebo controlled, phase III clinical trial headed by MD Anderson using shark cartlidge to treat non-small cell lung cancer. If it made it to phase III, the animal studies were promising. (Of course the participants are still recieving adjuvant chemotherapy with the traditional cheotherapeutic agents.) http://www3.mdanderson.org/depts/onc/id99303v11.htm
     
  12. Jan 31, 2006 #11
    i saw that documentary too...and been looking for the name of that disease...u wouldn't be able to know what it's called, would u?
     
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