Cartilage is a type of tough, flexible connective tissue that forms parts of the skeleton in many animals.
Cartilage contains cells called chondrocytes, which are surrounded by collagen (a fibrous protein) and proteoglycans, which are made of protein and carbohydrate.
It was once believed that sharks, whose skeletons are made mostly from cartilage, do not develop cancer.
This caused interest in cartilage as a possible treatment for cancer. Although malignant tumours are rare in sharks, cancers have been found in these animals.
A History of the Medical Use of Bovine and Shark Cartilage
- It was first reported that bovine cartilage decreased inflammation (redness, swelling, pain, and feeling of heat) in the 1960s;
- In the 1970s, it was found that bovine cartilage contains a substance that blocks angiogenesis (the forming of new blood vessels). If blood vessel growth into a tumour can be blocked, the tumour will stop growing or shrink.
- By the 1980s, laboratory and animal studies as well as clinical trials (research studies in people) testing bovine cartilage as a treatment for cancer were being conducted.