Extraction using dilute acetic acid followed by purification was used by Kylin already in 1913 to isolate “fucoidin”, subsequently referred to as fucoidan, from various species of the brown seaweeds being Laminaria and Fucus. Kylin reported that fucoidan extracted in this way mainly contained fucose, but also observed that the fucose occurred together with mannitol, alginic acid and laminarin. The extracts obtained where a mix of different substances. A parallel report was published that same year by Hoagland and Lieb (1915) who isolated a water-soluble polysaccharide from Macrocystis pyrifera that was closely related to if not identical with “fucoidan”, and shown to contain l-fucose as well as relatively high levels of calcium and sulfate. They employed a Na2CO3 soaking step and addition of hydrochloric acid which is why they also—if not mainly—isolated alginic acid (or alginate) during the extraction. The rationale behind the extraction of alginate from the seaweed with Na2CO3 soaking is to convert all the alginate salts, typically calcium and magnesium alginate, to the sodium salt. The terminology used is confusing because alginic acid or alginate does not designate one particular monosaccharide or one type of homo-polysaccharide. With the advances in chemical analyses we do now known that alginic acid or alginate is comprised of guluronic and mannuronic acids.
Therapies developed from fucoidan and other multifunctional marine polymers .
Published research on fucoidans increased three fold between 2000 and 2010. These algal derived marine carbohydrate polymers present numerous valuable bioactivities. Targets include osteoarthritis, kidney and liver disease, neglected infectious diseases, hemopoietic stem cell modulation, protection from radiation damage and treatments for snake envenomation. In recent years, the production of well characterized reproducible fucoidan type fractions on a commercial scale has become possible making therapies using fucoidan extracts a realizable goal. Sulfated polysaccharides and their lower molecular weight oligosaccharide derivatives from marine macroalgae have been shown to possess a variety of biological activities. It did provide an update on the structural chemistry of the major sulfated polysaccharides synthesized by seaweeds including the galactans (e.g., agarans and carrageenans), ulvans, and fucans. The more recent findings on the anticoagulant/antithrombotic, antiviral, immuno-inflammatory, antilipidemic and antioxidant activities of sulfated polysaccharides and their potential for therapeutic application.
Patients with cancer are at high risk of developing venous thromboembolism including deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Compared to non-cancer patients, VTE in cancer is more frequently associated with clinical consequences, including recurrent VTE, bleeding, and an increase in the risk of death. Low-molecular-weight heparins are commonly recommended for the prevention and treatment of VTE in cancer patients because of their favorable risk-to-benefit profile.
Indeed, compared with vitamin K antagonists, LMWHs are characterized by a reduced need for coagulation monitoring, few major bleeding episodes, and once-daily dosing, which make these drugs more suitable in the cancer setting. Guidelines have been published recently with the aim to improve the clinical outcomes in cancer patients at risk of VTE and its complications. Coagulation activation in cancer may have a role not only in thrombosis but also in tumour growth and dissemination. Hence, inhibition of fibrin formation has been considered a possible tool against the progression of malignant disease. Clinical studies show that anticoagulant drugs may have a beneficial effect on survival in cancer patients, with a major role for LMWHs. Recently a number of prospective randomized clinical trials to test LMWHs to improve cancer survival as a primary endpoint in cancer patients have been conducted. Although the results are controversial, the interest in this research area remains high.