Avemar: A Natural Supplement For Cancer Patients

By | August 4, 2016

What is Avemar?

Avemar is an all-natural, clinically proven, dietary supplement for cancer patients.

What is in Avemar?

Avemar  is derived by fermenting wheat germ with Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) to produce the following important benzoquinones:

  • 2,6‑dimethoxy-benzoquinone (DMBQ), and
  • 2-methoxy-benzoquinone

These benzoquinones occur in unfermented wheat germ as glycosides. The yeast glycosidase activity present during fermentation leads to release of the benzoquinones as aglycones. After fermentation, the aqueous extract of wheat germ is decanted, and the product is spray-dried, homogenised, encapsulated, and formulated. The dried fermented wheat germ extract is standardized to contain methoxy-substituted (2-methoxy-benzoquinone and 2,6‑DMBQ) at a concentration of 0.04%.

avemar .

Wheat Kernel

Wheat kernel consists of 3 parts: the germ, the bran and the endosperm.

Most nutrients are found the germ and the bran. The germ makes up about 2.5% of the total weight of wheat kernel. During the processing of wheat to yield white flour, both the bran and the germ are removed, leaving only the endosperm. Whole wheat products contain all parts of the wheat kernel, and hence, are healthier than refined wheat products. .

Avemar Discovery Story

Dr. Albert Szent Gyorgyi received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1937 for the discovery of vitamin C. In his cancer research, he theorised that the combination of vitamin C and methoxy-substituted benzoquinones or DMBQs, the precursors which are found in wheat germ, could cure cancer. However, Dr. Albert Szent Gyorgyi died before completing his work. Years later, Dr. Mate Hidvegi, a Hungarian biochemist, resumed Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi’s work. This led to his development of a patented process of fermenting wheat germ with baker’s yeast. Dr. Mate Hidvegi named this fermented wheat germ extract, Avemar.

Avemar Uses in Food

Since 1998, Avemar has been used in Hungary as a dietary supplement. In 2002, it was approved as a “medical nutriment for cancer patients”.

In the European Union, it is classified as a “dietary food for special medical purposes”.

It is available as a dietary supplement in over 20 countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

How Avemar Works

1. Exerts Anticancer Effects & Its Mechanisms

Induction of apoptosis in cancer cells

Malignant cancer cells have the ability to evade apoptosis (programmed cell death). They tend to survive, form tumours and can resist therapies.

Most therapies kill cancer cells by inducing apoptosis. Avemar enhances the effectiveness of apoptosis-induced cancer therapies in 2 ways: – by reducing the production of PARP enzyme, and – by increasing the production of Caspase-3 enzyme, in cancer cells.

PARP (Poly-ADP–ribose-Polymerase) is an enzyme that plays a key role in DNA repair. PARP repairs breaks in DNA before cell division. As cancer cells reproduce quickly and chaotically, this results in many breaks and other mistakes during DNA replication. This is why cancer cells need a lot of PARP.

Avemar inhibits PARP. As a result, cancer cells cannot complete DNA replication without sufficient PARP.

As the activity of PARP is very high in cancer cells, these cells can be selectively sensitised by PARP inhibitors such as Avemar, to chemotherapy drugs. Avemar does not inhibit PARP and trigger apoptosis in healthy cells.

Caspase-3 is an enzyme that plays an important role in regulating apoptosis. Avemar induces caspase-3-mediated cleavage and inactivation of PARP. When there’s no PARP for DNA repair, caspase-3 initiates apoptosis of cancer cells.

Unmasking cancer cells

Normal cells express surface molecules called MHC-1, which tell the immune system’s natural killer cells not to attack. Natural killer cells play a pivotal role in antitumour defense.

However, cancer cells are able to display high levels of MHC-1 to disguise themselves as normal cells and to avoid recognition by natural killer cells. This is a common feature of metastatic tumour cells to avoid natural killer cell detection.

Avemar reduces MHC-1 on the surface of cancer cells. This increases natural killer targeting of cancer cells, thus reducing their metastatic potential.

Other Anticancer Actions:

- Increases intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on tumour blood vessels. This helps the immune system cells, leucocytes, to get through the walls of the vessels more easily and attack the tumour.

- Blocks ribonucleotide reductase (RR), an enzyme needed by cells to make new DNA. The impaired production of DNA for cancer cells inhibits their growth and replication.

- Inhibits cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes) to provide relief from pain and inflammation. High COX-2 expression is often associated with colon cancer. Studies showed Avemar as a cancer preventative in animals with colon cancer.

2. Inhibits Glucose Metabolism In Cancer Cells

Glucose is a source of energy for both healthy and cancer cells.

Cancer cells thrive on glucose. They use up to 50 times more glucose than normal cells. Unlike healthy cells (that use oxygen), cancer cells convert glucose into energy without oxygen. In addition, cancer cells use glucose to fuel the production of RNA and DNA, resulting in rapid growth and spread of tumours.

Avemar selectively starves cancer cells of glucose by inhibiting non-oxidative glucose metabolism in these cells. This reduces DNA and RNA formation in cancer cells, thereby suppressing their growth and proliferation. This is supported by animal and human studies, which showed that Avemar is most effective on metastatic tumours.

At the same time, Avemar promotes oxidative glucose metabolism in healthy cells. This increases the production of RNA and DNA for healthy cellular repair and differentiation.

3. Promotes Immune System Modulation

Avemar regulates and modulates T-cells, B-cells, natural killer cells and macrophages – all the important blood cells in your immune system.

  • Improves natural killer cell recognition of target cells
  • Modulates cellular and humoral immunity (Th1/Th2 cells)
  • Enhances T-cell responses to antigens
  • Enhances the ability of B-cells to generate antibodies
  • Enhances functioning of macrophages, that destroy and clear foreign invaders from the body

Scietific Support For Avemar

Since 1996, there have been more than 100 studies carried out on Avemar in cells, animals and humans.

Avemar possessses unique anti-cancer properties.

When used as an adjunct treatment, Avemar enhances the effects of standard anticancer therapy (SAT). Animal studies showed that Avemar has cancer preventive and anti metastatic properties.

In human clinical trials, it was found to have therapeutic effects against primary colorectal cancer, Stage 3 melanoma, and Stages 3 and 4 oral cancer.

Human Clinical Trials (Cancer):

Colorectal Cancer1

(i) 30 patients following radical operation were treated with standard postoperative therapy, 12 of them were given fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) as additive treatment.

Results: Following a 9 month long administration of fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar), no new distant metastases were detected in the Avemar group. In contrast, 4 out 18 control patients treated with standard therapy alone developed several new metastases.

Conclusion: Fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) is potentially a candidate for supportive therapy to surgery or plus adjuvant hemotherapy for colorectal patients.

(ii) A study compared anticancer treatments (surgery and radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy)  plus fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) vs anticancer treatments alone in 170 colorectal patients. 66 patients received 9g a day of Avemar, for more than 6 months and 104 patients served as controls (ie. no Avemar).

Results: Progression related events (new recurrent disease, new metastatic lesions, deaths) were significantly less frequent in the Avemar group.

Comparison of Avemar group vs. Control group New recurrences: 3.0% vs. 17.3% New metastases: 7.6% vs. 23.1% Deaths: 12.1% vs. 31.7% Total progression-related events: 16.7% vs. 42.3%

Conclusion: Continuous supplementation of anti cancer therapies with fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) for more than 6 months is beneficial to patients with colorectal cancer, by improving overall and progression free survival.

Stage 3 Melanoma2

A phase 2 clinical study with a 7-year follow up was carried out to test the supportive effect of fermented wheat germ extract in stage 3 melanoma patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. 52 high risk stage 3 skin melanoma postoperative patients were randomised to either: – chemotherapy only (control group), or – chemotherapy and fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar group).

Patients from the Avemar group took 8.5g of Avemar, dissolved in 150ml water, once a day for up to 12 months.

Although the study lasted for 12 months, patients were followed up for an additional 7 years.

Results:  Adjuvant chemotherapy plus Avemar combination is superior to chemotherapy alone for improving progression free and overall survival.

Comparison of Avemar group vs. Control group Mean progression free survival: 55.8 months vs. 29.9 months Mean overall survival: 66.2 months vs. 44.7 months

Animal and cell line studies found that Avemar enhanced the efficacy of chemotherapy when administered concurrently. This study results showed some long lasting benefit of the adjuvant chemotherapy plus Avemar combination, thus confirming the synergism between them.

Conclusion: It is highly recommended that Avemar be included into the adjuvant protocols of high risk melanoma patients.

 Stages 3 & 4 Oral Cancer

A phase 2 clinical study was carried out to investigate the effect of Avemar when used as a supportive therapy in tumors of the oral cavity. 45 patients with stage 2 or 3 participated in this study and had undergone surgery and radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. They were assigned to 2 groups: – 23 patients in Avemar group – 22 patients in control group (ie. no Avemar)

Patients in the Avemar group took 8.5g of Avemar per day, dissolved in 150ml water, 1 hour before one of the main meals, for a duration of 1 year.

The patients were followed up for an additional 5 years to determine survival rate.

Results: At the end of 1 year, local recurrences and disease progression (death, new local receurrences, new distant mestatases) were reduced significantly in the Avemar group.

Comparison of Avemar group vs. Control group Local recurrences: 4.3% vs. 54.5% Disease progression: 8.7% vs. 59.1% No. of patients alive after 5 years: 17 vs. 10

Treatment with Avemar reduced the risk of disease progression by 85.3%.

Conclusion: Long term supplementation with Avemar in oral cancer patients reduced local recurrences significantly and increased 5-year survival rate significantly. The researchers suggested that standard conventional treatment for oral cancer be supplemented by the supportive treatment with Avemar.

Two other clinical studies showed that Avemar improved cachetic symptoms and reduced side effects of chemo-/radiotherapy in patients with advanced head-neck tumours, thereby improving their quality of life.

Based on the research results on Avemar, The Hungarian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends Avemar as an important supportive treatment for stages 2, 3 and 4 of malignant oral cancer. For patients with malignant tumours of the oral cavity, long term supportive application of Avemar slows the progression of the disease significantly, increases the 5-year survival rate considerably, improves quality of life and reduces oxidative stress.

Avemar vs. AveULTRA – What’s The Difference?

Avemar is the trade name for fermented wheat germ extract. In the USA and Canada, it  is distributed under the name AWGE. The latter contains the original Avemar, which is manufactured in Hungary.

AveULTRA is the new and improved fermented wheat germ extract, produced in the United States by American BioSciences. Dr Mate Hidvegi, the inventor and patent holder, improved upon his original patented fermented wheat germ processing method by utilising freeze-drying technology.

Improvements include: – elimination of maltodextrin as a stabilizer – replacing fructose with a zero calorie sweetener, stevia – better taste and easier mixing As a result, AveULTRA has much lesser non-active ingredients, comes in 1/3 the size of Avemar (AveULTRA = 5.53g per packet vs. Avemar = 17g per packet) and yet, is still as powerful. Both AveULTRA and Avemar contain similar amounts of the active ingredient: AveULTRA = 5.5g freeze-dried fermented wheat germ extract Avemar = 5.372g spray-dried fermented wheat germ extract.

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Is Avemar Safe?

Human and animal toxicity studies showed no significant adverse effects from the use of Avemar over extended periods of time. The results from these studies showed its safety for its intended use as a dietary supplement ingredient.

Mild side effects include diarrhea, nausae, flatulence, soft stool, constipation, dizziness and weight gain.

Avemar has been granted the status of ‘Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)’ by The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Bottom Line

Avemar is one of the best researched supplements for cancer patients.

Scientific studies have demonstrated the efficacy of Avemar in supporting standard anticancer therapy (SAT). It enhances the effectiveness of SAT and ameliorates the side effects. Avemar improves progression free and overall survival significantly when used in combination with SAT.

It has a very good safety profile, with no significant side effects.

It attenuates the effects of the disease (cancer cachexia), thereby improving quality of life in advanced stage cancer patients.

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1 Fermented wheat germ extract in the supportive therapy of colorectal cancer http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16255377

2Adjuvant fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) nutraceutical improves survival of high-risk skin melanoma patients: a randomized, pilot, phase II clinical study with a 7-year follow-up. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18771352

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