Following a successful pilot study, the NCI is supporting a cooperative agreement to develop the International Center of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cancer Treatment (ICTCM) that partners the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) with the Cancer Hospital, Fudan University in Shanghai, China (Project number: 3U19CA121503. While NCI has supported research in individual topics related to TCM, such as acupuncture, these are the first NCI grants to support the development of an international collaborative partnership to study multiple aspects of TCM. Researchers with the center will investigate the benefits of some traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatments for cancer patients.
During the 2-year pilot study that began in 2003, the ICTCM investigated 3 aspects of TCM: a) herbal and natural treatments that target the disease and related symptoms; b) acupuncture for some side effects of cancer treatment; and c) the bio-behavioral effects of qigong and other mind/body interventions. This work was advanced further under a new 4-year cooperative agreement, which was also extended for two additional years. The investigators have completed Phase I clinical trials on huachansu (a TCM therapy derived from sterilized toad skin extract), acupuncture to prevent prolonged postoperative ileus, and qigong for women with breast cancer. Phase II clinical trials of huachansu combined with gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, and acupoint stimulation to prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting were finalized and data analyses are ongoing. A new study combining tai chi and qigong has been completed and a publication is in progress.
The phase I trial of huanchansu for the treatment of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, non-small cell cancer, and pancreatic cancer has been completed. In this trial, huanchansu was shown to be well-tolerated and can result in disease stabilization in patient subsets.
A study on bufalin, a component of huachansu, has shown that Na+/K+-ATPase α3 might serve as a therapeutic target for bufalin in hepatocellular cancer, and its expression status may help predict sensitivity of HCC cells to bufalin treatment.
ICTCM has made possible new collaborative studies. Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, PI and his team were able to secure a new grant with Fudan University entitled “Placebo Controlled Trial of Acupuncture to prevent Radiation-induced Xerostomia” (R01CA148707).
Meng Z, Yang P, Shen Y, Bei W, Zhang Y, Ge Y, Newman R, Cohen L, Liu L, Thornton B, Chang D, Liao Z, Kurzrock R. Pilot study of huachansu in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, nonsmall-cell lung cancer, or pancreatic cancer. Cancer 2009:115; 5309-18.
Li H, Wang P, Gao Y, Zhu X, Liu L, Cohen L, Meng Z, and Yang P. Na+/K+-ATPase alpha 3 mediates sensitivity of hepatocellular carcinoma cells to bufalin. Oncology Reports 2011:25;825-830.
Meng ZQ, Garcia MK, Chiang JS, Peng HT, Shi YQ, Fu J, Liu LM, Liao ZX, Zhang Y, Bei WY, Thornton B, Palmer JL, McQuade J, Cohen L. Electro-acupuncture to prevent prolonged postoperative ileus: A randomized clinical trial. World J Gastroenterol 2010:16;104-11.
An abstract on a Phase II trial on huachansu and pancreatic cancer was presented at GI ASCO 2011. In progress.
Meng Z, Liu L, Shen Y, Yang P, Cohen L, Huo Y, Zhao Q, Ng CS, Chang DZ, Garrett CR. A randomized phase II study of gemcitabine plus the cardiac glycoside huachansu in the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. J Clin Oncol 2011:29; (suppl 4; abstr 284).