BETHESDA, MdTwo new research centers funded by the National
Institutes of Health will focus on basic and clinical research of
complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) cancer therapies. The
centers, at Johns Hopkins University and the University of
Pennsylvania, will each receive nearly $8 million over 5 years.
The centers are being funded by the NIHs National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) under what are called
P-50 awards. The awards support a full range of research and
development projects from basic work to clinical and interventional
studies. NCCAM is funding a total of 15 such centers through P-50 grants.
Congress directed the NIH to establish a national CAM research center
in light of alternative therapys growing popularity among
Americans. Several recent national studies have found that a majority
of cancer patients use some form of CAM, particularly herbs,
vitamins, and medications.
These centers will promote high-quality research and provide
the resources necessary to facilitate rigorous scientific
investigation to determine the safety and effectiveness of several
popular CAM cancer therapies in use by the American public,
said NCCAM director Stephen E. Straus, MD.
The new Johns Hopkins Center for Cancer Complementary Medicine,
headed by Adrian S. Dobs, MD, will initially pursue projects in four
The antioxidant effect of herbs in cancer cells.
The pain-reducing power of soy and tart cherry in four animal
The safety and efficacy of a popular combination of eight
Chinese herbs, known as PC-SPES, in prostate cancer patients.
The power of prayer in black women with breast cancer,
specifically its re-lationship to breast cancer recurrence, and to
immune system and endocrine function.
Often patients ask their physicians about an alternative
medicine treatment that they have heard of, but receive little
direction one way or the other because there is little scientific
evidence, said Dr. Dobs, associate professor of endocrinology
at Johns Hopkins. Then the onus is on the patient to decide,
and this can be dangerous for patients.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Specialized Center of
Research in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, headed by Stephen R. Thom, MD,
PhD, will explore the use of oxygen at greater than atmospheric
pressure in the treatment of cancer.
Four initial projects are aimed at determining the mechanisms of
action, safety, and clinical efficacy of hyperbaric oxy-gen therapy
for head and neck tumors.
The University of Pennsylvania studies include:
An outcomes trial in patients who have undergone laryngectomy
An examination of the effects of hyperbaric oxygen on the
growth of blood vessels and tumors.
A study of the effects of hyperbaric oxygen on the adhesion
and growth of metastatic tumors in the lung.
An evaluation of how elevated oxygen pressures affect cellular
levels of nitric oxide.