BETHESDA, Md--Wayne Jonas, MD, director-designate of the NIH Office
of Alternative Medicine (OAM), who will take office on July 1,
has attended his first meeting of the Alternative Medicine Program
Advisory Council (AMPAC).
In his address to AMPAC, Dr. Jonas, an army physician who has
studied alternative therapies, said that the original purpose
of the OAM was to look at and report on claims of treatments for
cancer and other diseases that fall outside the realm of traditional
medicine, and to establish a clearinghouse for alternative treatments.
But, he said, "people invested too many of their hopes in
OAM; that is, they relied on OAM to do what traditional medicine
cannot: cure cancer."
He noted that the first 3½ years of the OAM's operation have
been marred by political meddling, as well as administrative and
management problems that have hampered the office's ability to
conduct appropriate field investigations of a variety of alternative
Dr. Jonas assured the AMPAC members that he is committed to excellent
science. "If we do not have top-notch science at OAM, the
investigations will go nowhere," he said, adding that he
felt confident of continuing NIH support.
Alan Trachtenberg, MD, MPH, who has been serving as acting director
of OAM, reported on the various treatment modalities that have
been in the OAM's spotlight since its inception in 1991.
In terms of cancer, there is little positive to report, he said.
Two children with brain tumors are enrolled in a trial of antineoplastons
(substances extracted from urine that have been shown to promote
regression of neoplastic cells in vi-tro), and no patients are
enrolled in a study of shark cartilage for solid tumors.