Dietary apoptogens and cancer

One in three dogs – one in two over the age of ten – will develop cancer. With these sobering statistics, could apoptogens be a potential treatment?

An excellent candidate for a new treatment approach targets apoptogens. Apoptosis is a type of genetically programmed cell death that occurs naturally every day in cells that are old, deranged, or damaged. Lack of normal apoptosis is one of six hallmarks common to every cancer type, as identified in the landmark paper “Hallmarks of Cancer: the Next Generation” (Weinberg and Hanahan, Cell, January, 2000). The importance of apoptosis and its positive impact on health was further illuminated in 2002, when Brenner, Horvitz and Sulston were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death”.

Ever since, pharmaceutical companies have been spending billions developing synthetic pharmaceutical apoptogens, yet Mother Nature has already invented apoptogens in the form of plant-based bioflavonoids such as luteolin, curcumin and apigenin. These tiny molecules, when extracted from foods and carefully formulated, naturally activate the apoptosis genes in old, damaged, or deranged cells. These and several other dietary apoptogens are currently the subject of dozens of trials around the world.

The problem with oral delivery of dietary apoptogens, however, is their relative lack of bioavailability at the doses needed to achieve a clinical effect. This was a major obstacle when I first started working with these apoptogens in my own practice. When my company, Functional Nutriments, wanted to bring my formula Apocaps® to market, we came up with a technology called Biovadex™ that provides a “Trojan Horse” method for delivering apoptogens to the bloodstream at relative concentrations. Biovadex is now used in Apocaps.

Veterinarians of all types are embracing these products. Integrative veterinarians recognize their obvious applications in the clinical setting, but so do conventional veterinarians, including some otherwise conservative veterinary oncologists. That’s because the apoptogens in Apocaps, when dosed at the levels we use, are selectively pro-oxidant in nature, targeting proliferating cells lacking normal apoptosis. Apocaps is suitable for use as a standalone palliative, and is also compatible with conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, as seen in over 12,000 dogs receiving Apocaps. In fact, due to the chemo-sensitizing and radio-sensitizing nature of the constituent ingredients, oncologists and oncology-oriented private practitioners use Apocaps for that purpose. Integrative veterinarians are using the capsules along with medicinal mushrooms, other herbal formulas, homeopathy and acupuncture.

Susan Ettinger, DVM, ACVIM (Oncology), and I have written a white paper about dietary apoptogens and their use in a clinical setting – visit

Dr. Demian Dressler is the owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a fullservice veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii. He studied Animal Physiology and received a BSc degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. Dr. Dressler is the cofounder of Functional Nutriments, LLC, and the inventor of Apocaps. He is a member of the AVMA, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, and the NASC.