Lyprinol - NZ mussel extract may mitigate chemotherapy effects

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An Australian researcher says he has scientific evidence that an extract from New Zealand's green-lipped mussels can be used to relieve a side effect of cancer chemotherapy.

Cancer researcher Associate Professor Gordon Howarth said the extract from the New Zealand mussels, branded as Lyprinol, was already used as an anti-inflammatory product to treat asthma and arthritis.

"But we have found evidence that it can be used in the fight against an inflamed gastrointestinal tract," said Prof Howarth, a Cancer Council Australia senior research fellow who leads the Adelaide University's digestive health research group.

His research shows that naturally sourced agents known as "bioactives" can provide drug-free forms of controlling infections in the bowel.

The mussel extracts are claimed to be effective against inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the mouth, throat or gastrointestinal tract, commonly associated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer.

It is a life-threatening condition and generally experienced by 40 percent to 60 percent of cancer patients.

In 2000 the South Australian researchers triggered controversy when they made claims linking NZ mussel extracts and cancer and media published reports implying Lyprinol was a miracle cancer cure.

Subsequently two companies -- Pacific Pharmaceuticals and Lyprinol New Zealand -- that launched Lyprinol in New Zealand were prosecuted for selling the mussel extract as a medicine without official consent.

Sales of the extract soared, with $2 million sales in one day reported, but the Ministry of Health said at the time the two companies should not have positioned Lyprinol in the market as a possible cure for cancer.
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