BENEFITS OF MODIFILAN
By L. Gordin, M.D.
Modifilan is a concentrated extract of the brown seaweed Laminaria japonica.
This seaweed is gathered in the clean waters of the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
Forty pounds of raw Laminaria is needed to make just one pound of
Modifilan. This unique patented technology "semidigests" the tough outer layer
of seaweed fibers exposing, concentrating and making much more bioavailable the
macro-and micronutrient-dense central vein of the Laminaria.
Although the nutritional and medicinal powers of seaweeds have been known for
thousands of years the scientific basis of their health benefits has been
established only recently.
One of the most impressive aspects of Modifilan that sets it apart from other
types of seaweed products is its very high content of soluble polysaccharides
like Fucoidan, laminarin and alginate. The former compound is particularly rich
in such simple sugars as glucuronic acid, mannose and fucose that give Laminaria
its distinctive taste.
The ongoing research into Fucoidan has conclusively demonstrated its ability to
induce cancer cell apoptosis (programmed cell death) in leukemia, stomach and
colon cancer cell lines. This biological data support epidemiological
observations that Laminaria is an important factor contributing to the
relatively low breast cancer rates reported in Japan.
The technology involved in processing Laminaria japonica preserves and at the
same time concentrates this vulnerable thermolabile substance thus making
Modifilan one of the richest sources of cancer-fighting Fucoidan.
Another polysaccharide concentrated in Modifilan that may have anti-cancer
properties is laminarin. It is known that tumor formation and growth require a
highly charged extra-cellular matrix. Solid tumors provoke ongoing high-level
fibrin leakage from surrounding capillaries. This fibrin clot gets invaded by
various cells recruited by solid tumors including fibroblasts and endothelial
cells. The former cells lay down a heavily charged matrix throughout the tumor
and the later cells participate in tumor angiogenesis (vascularization).
Angiogenesis is a prerequisite for tumor expansion and metastasis. It has been
shown that laminarin sulfate inhibit the binding of basic fibroblast growth
factor (BFGF) to an extra-cellular matrix leading to inhibition of fibrin clot
invasion by tumor-recruited fibroblasts and endothelial cells suggesting a
novel approach to tumor therapy based on blocking angiogenesis.
Cancer metastasis involves the tumor cell adhesion to host tissue basement
membrane followed by tissue invasion facilitated by tumor cell surface (urokinaze-type
plasminogen activator) associated plasminogen activation. Fucoidan interferes
with cancer cells metastasis (anti-metastatic activity) by inhibition of
physical interaction between the tumor cells and basement membrane as well as
suppression of the proteolytic cascade of plasminogen activation.
Interaction and organization of cells and tissue in general and tumor and host
cells in particular may be mediated by the interactions between cell membrane
polysaccharides and the corresponding protein receptor. Fucoidan, a sulfated
fucopolysaccharide, inhibits the adhesion process (cell-cell interaction) by
blocking lectin-like adhesion molecules (glycoproteins) on cell surfaces and
therefore interfering with tumor cell colonization (metastasis).
Another mechanism of antiproliferative (anti-tumor) properties of Fucoidan was
shown in vitro and in vivo on a cell line derived from a nonsmall-cell human
bronchopulmonary carcinoma (particularly chemoresistant tumor). Fucoidan exerted
antiproliferative activity with a block observed in the G1 phase of the cell
It has also been demonstrated that Fucoidan acts as a so-called activator of the
reticulo-endothelial system, specifically as an enhancer of phagocytosis. This
suggests another aspect of antitumor activity of Fucoidan related to the
activation of macrophage-mediated tumor cell killing.
There are also non-polysaccharide fractions from Laminaria that have been found
to have a significant cancer-preventative anti-mutagenic (anti-DNA damage)
activity against typical genotoxic substances.
Another promising use of the sulfated polysaccharides Fucoidan and laminarin is
in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Several mechanisms
are involved: the inhibition of smooth muscle cell proliferation (monoclonal
hyperplasia) which is an important step in atherogeneses; activation of enzymes
involved in the beta-oxidation of fatty acids which can be useful in the
prevention and treatment of hyperlipedemia. Laminarin has been shown to have a
hypotensive effect. It also exhibits 30% of the anticoagulant activity of
All of these properties of sulfated polysaccharides make Modifilan clinically
applicable in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease,
cerebrovascular disease, atherosclerosis, cancerogenesis and cancer metastasis.
Another extremely important area of Modifilan application is in the
environmental medicine. Polysaccharide laminarin has been shown in four animal
species (mice, guineapigs, dogs, and monkeys) to prevent acute radiation
sickness and death (about LD90) when administered within 24 hours after
radiation exposure. This research suggests that the brown seaweed Laminaria can
be clinically useful in the treatment and prevention of the adverse effects of
The non-digestible polysaccharide alginate that comprises 50% of Modifilan's
total dry weight has the unique ability of binding heavy metals and radioactive
substances to its own molecules. As the alginate is non-digestible it is
excreted from the body together with toxic compounds. This is particularly
important for cadmium and mercury, as these metals are found at dangerously high
levels in air, water and food. Alginate can also remove isotopes that have
previously been absorbed by the human body from the environment. Even small
amounts of radioactive pollution will expose surrounding cells to harmful
radioactive emission. The way alginate facilitates the excretion of toxic
substances that find their way into the body from the environment can be shown
using, as an example, the elimination of radioactive strontium:
Sr 2+ (food)
Sr 2+ (in GI tract) + alginate = strontium alginate feces
Sr 2+ (blood)
Sr 2+ (bones)
A percentage of Strontium molecules stored in the bone structure (or any other
toxic substance stored in the tissue) is constantly released and is traveling
with the blood stream. As the blood feeds the saliva and bile, part of the
released strontium or other toxic metal ends up in the large intestine. Most of
the liquid in the large intestine is reabsorbed by the body including the
radioactive isotopes and heavy metals, which are redeposited back into the
tissue. Alginate can break this process, as toxic substances are bound to the
alginate molecules and released from the body with feces. Alginate binds to all
heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, cobalt, copper and radium.
Modifilan should be consumed over at least a four-month period to expedite
removal of toxic substances stored in the body as a result of previous
Another interesting potential application of Modifilan as one of the best
sources of Fucoidan is for inflammatory conditions of the alimentary tract.
The inflammation process involves elevated synthesis of the proinflammotory
mediators like adhesion molecules, white cell infiltration of gastrointestinal
mucosa and altered mucosal integrity. Therapeutic use of heparin has produced
clinical remission in the majority of patients with inflammatory bowel disorder.
One of the mechanisms involved is restoration of the fibroblast growth factor
activity that stimulates repair of the epithelium. Since Fucoidan shares many
properties with heparin including cell surfact activity one can expect similar
therapeutic benefit with use of Fucoidan.
Another mechanism of the beneficial effect of heparin, heparan sulphate and
potentially Fucoidan is their mucosal-protective properties as glycosaminoglycans. Gastrointestinal inflammation may cause alteration in the
protective mucosal layer of glycosalminoglycans and may cause substances like
heparin and Fucoidan to become "conditionally essential" nutrients suitable for
oral administration because they can be absorbed across the GI mucosa.