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UT - Houston to Test Alternative Cancer Agents

UT - Houston to Test Alternative Cancer Agents

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.

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