HOUSTON--The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center
has been selected by the National Institutes of Health to be home
to one of eight specialty centers that will conduct research into
the effectiveness of alternative medicines used in cancer treatment.
UT-Houston is expected to receive $733,350 over a 3-year period
from the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine. The research will
be conducted in the Center for Health Promotion Research and Development
at the School of Public Health.
Guy S. Parcel, PhD, principal investigator and director of the
Center, said that the primary aim of the research will be to evaluate
the effectiveness of biopharmacologic and herbal therapies for
cancer prevention and treatment. Biopharmacologic therapies may
include biochemical agents, vaccines, blood products, or synthetic
chemicals, while herbal therapies are those derived from plants
such as the mayapple, periwinkle, and Pacific yew tree.
"Despite the widespread use of alternative therapies, many
have not undergone rigorous scientific testing for their effectiveness
and safety," Dr. Parcel said. The first task will be an evaluation
of the scientific studies that do exist so that a research agenda
can be set, he said. The Center hopes to begin funding projects
in the second year of the grant.