Recently published in the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, cell therapy is defined as “the administration of living whole cells for the patient for the treatment of a disease.” When treating cancer, this has largely meant immunotherapy medication with T cells, both engineered and not. But that is changing. As our understanding of the innate immune system catches up with our understanding of the adaptive immune system, natural killer (NK) cells are emerging as an alternative to T cells in eliciting an immune response to tumors. This is what natural immune system has been all about, for years!

At the Innate Killer Summit, held last month in San Diego, scientists in industry and academia described the approaches they are using to improve cell therapies. Some of the scientists are engineering NK cells, as a drug, to use in cancer treatment. Robert Igarashi, PhD, the co-founder and CSO of CytoSen Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company attempting to patent a drug to stimulate NK cells, says, “Normal adults have one to two million circulating NK cells.” The company is attempting to duplicate and stimulate an immune attack on the cancer.(1)

There are numerous ways to stimulate NK Cells naturally.  Mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, Coriolus, and other mushrooms, boost NK cell activity courtesy of beta-glucans, a polysaccharide known for its immune-boosting and cancer-fighting activities. As noted in a 2007 study in the journal Medicina:(2 –Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Oyster Mushroom)

“[B]eta-glucans … increase host immune defense by activating complement system, enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell functionThe induction of cellular responses by mushroom and other beta-glucans is likely to involve their specific interaction with several cell surface receptors, as complement receptor 3, lactosylceramide, selected scavenger receptors, and dectin-1 (betaGR). Beta-glucans also show anticarcinogenic activity. They can prevent oncogenesis due to the protective effect against potent genotoxic carcinogens. As [an] immunostimulating agent, which acts through the activation of macrophages and NK cell cytotoxicity, beta-glucan can inhibit tumor growth in promotion stage too.”

Polysaccharides in Aloe, though extremely unstable, are even more powerful beta-glucans if harvested and processed correctly. The number of saccharides in each chain are what defines the molecule and determines how it works in the body. The inner leaf of the Aloe plant has the greatest concentration of beneficial polysaccharides yet discovered. The immune-stimulating, cancer-killing component of Aloe was determined to be an acetylated polymannan called ACEMANNAN. Acemannan works by stimulating the body’s own immune system to help it heal itself!

Numerous studies have been published about the benefits of acemannan and the Aloe plant. As usual, when this happens, sales of Aloe rise to consumers wanting the immune-stimulating benefits. The problem is that the acemannan (the active, beneficial component) is NOT stable! UGH! Millions of dollars a year spent on Aloe products that, though other benefits may still avail, the immune-stimulating, cancer-killing properties simply no longer exist (due to acemannan’s instability).

However, thank goodness, a research team discovered not only how to stabilize acemannan so it can be capsulized and utilized by the body, but they discovered the best chain length (50-400) of polysaccharides to give the most immune-stimulating properties. EvolvImmun holds the patent on the only stabilized, correct-chain polysaccharide available for human consumption.