Scientific Name(S): Squalus acanthias (spiny dogfish shark), Sphyrna lewini (Hammerhead Shark) and other shark species
Common Name(S): Spiny dogfish shark, hammerhead shark and other species
History: Shark cartilage is prepared from the cartilage of freshly caught sharks in the Pacific Ocean. The cartilage is cut from the shark, cleaned, shredded, and dried. One of the main processing plants for dogfish shark is in Costa Rica. The finely ground cartilage is uniformly pulverized (in a 200 mesh screen), sterilized, and encapsulated. Gelatin capsules contain 740 mg, usually without additives or fillers, and are claimed to be "all natural." The 100% pure shark cartilage is also available in 200 g and 500 g capsules in safety-sealed bottles (eg, Cartilade).
Squalamine was originally isolated from shark stomachs, but has subsequently been synthesized. This compound is still in the experimental stage and is not yet commercially available.
Uses of Shark Derivatives:
The shark cartilage was thought to be a cancer control agent, but no studies have proven this theory. Squalamine has been used as a potent antibiotic with fungicidal and antiprotozoal activity.
Side Effects of Shark Derivatives:
No adverse effects have appeared on either substance.
Toxicology: No toxicity data has appeared in current literature on either shark cartilage or squalamine.
Summary: Initial interest on the purported anticancer effects of cartilage from dogfish shark has waned since the National Cancer Institute decided against supporting studies on it. A few studies on related species show interesting active protein substances that may be useful as cancer control agents. However, the only active small molecule with promise is the aminosterol called squalamine. Its major experimental activity has been as a unique and potent antibiotic with fungicidal and antiprotozoal activity. Clinical data should be forthcoming.
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