The Role of Copper

If angiogenesis controls cancer growth, what controls angiogenesis? Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of South Florida believe that the copper status is critical to the function growth factors.


TUMOR GROWTH is dependent upon ANGIOGENESIS
which is dependent upon the release of GROWTH FACTORS
which are dependent upon the COPPER STATUS

Copper is believed to be the switch that turns on the angiogenesis process in tumor cells. It has been observed that abnormally high serum copper levels are found in patients with many types of progressive tumors.

According to the University of Michigan Oncology Journal, many studies have shown copper to be an obligatory cofactor in the process of angiogenesis. Growth factors in angiogenesis require binding to copper in order to function properly. As stated in Steven Brem’s research at the Moffitt Cancer Center, linked below, “copper-binding molecules [ceruloplasmin, heparin, and tripeptide glycly-histadyl-lysine] are non-angiogenic when free of copper, but they become angiogenic when bound to copper.”

On January 21, 2000, the University of Michigan reported that researchers had “successfully stopped the growth and spread of cancer by depriving the tumors of the copper supply they need to form new blood vessels.” Dr. George Brewer used an inexpensive compound called tetrathiomolybdate (TM) to lower the serum copper levels in patients with cancer. This study was done with a group of 18 patients in hospice with 11 different types of metastatic cancer. The goal of the study was to reduce ceruloplasmin to 20% of baseline for at least 90 days. The treatment achieved this goal in 6 patients, and 5 of those patients have seen no tumor growth or new tumors for more than 2 years. The other 12 patients could not achieve the target copper levels, suggesting that it can take more than a month to reduce copper levels to target, during which time the cancer may progress rapidly.

A larger 100 patient Phase II trial of TM is currently underway. “This is not a cure for cancer, but a disease stabilizer.” Dr. Brewer said of the anti-copper drug. Dr. Brewer sought and received orphan drug status by the FDA for AmmoniumTetrathiomolybdate on January 31, 1994 for the treatment of Wilson’s disease.

Based on the research in Michigan, Dr. Brewer said “There’s no reason to try to follow a low-copper diet. The only two foods we ask people not to eat are liver, which is loaded with copper and shellfish, which have intermediately high amounts.” The research does not suggest that the copper in most food and supplements help promote cancer. “You’re not trying to get rid of all the copper, people die. [What you’re doing with zinc or TM therapy is] reducing the excessive load of copper and preventing it from reaccumulating.”

Our recommended compounding pharmacist for the TM:

Wayne Loveland, pharmacist
The Prescription Center
1907 West Avenue South
LaCrosse, WI 54601
608-788-4500
800-203-9066
608-788-4501 fax

Click on links below to learn more.

Quick Study-

“Copper-lowering drug stabilizes advanced cancer in anti-angiogenesis trial”
This is a news release dated 1/20/2000 from the University of Michigan regarding copper, cancer and tetrathiomolybdate (TM).

“Copper and Cancer”
This is from an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association dated 2/23/2000, regarding copper and cancer.

For more in-depth information see below-

“Treatment of Metastatic Cancer with Tetrathiomolybdate, an Anticopper, Antiangiogenic Agent: Phase I Study”
This is a research paper dated January 2000, authored by George J. Brewer, M.D. and R. D. Dick, et al., regarding copper and TM. Dr. Brewer, a University of Michigan human genetics professor and researcher, originated the work on the use of TM and cancer. Abstract is also available.

“Angiogenesis and Cancer Control: From Concept to Therapeutic Trial”
This is a research paper published in 1999, authored by Steven Brem, M.D., of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. See Table 2 (showing copper as a trace element), Table 7 and the discussion concerning copper under the subtitle “Copper Antagonists/Chelators.”

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