Areas of Focus | Innovative Therapies - NFCR

Innovative Therapies

Innovative Therapies

What is Innovative Therapies?

The cancer research field is filled with promising innovators looking for new and exciting ways to treat and prevent cancer, as well as improve conditions for patients during and after treatment.

Medical innovation is about experimentation and challenging the status quo. Sometimes that involves simply thinking outside the box and sometimes it means bucking conventional wisdom outright. Researchers are looking at innovative therapies that can improve the health, wellness and, ultimately, the chance of survival for patients.

NFCR Research Highlights

Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng’s laboratory is working to bring Traditional Chinese Medicine into the mainstream of Western medicine, with hopes of reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, while enhancing the benefits. Since the late 1990s, with support from NFCR, Dr. Cheng’s team has been exploring the therapeutic properties of PHY906, a Chinese herbal medicine formula. They have discovered that cancer treatment with PHY906, combined with chemotherapy, alleviates the unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy for colon, rectal, pancreatic and liver cancer patients. Moreover, their research demonstrated that PHY906 also has its own, solo anti-tumor attributes. If there is continued success in clinical trials, PHY906 could become one of the first FDA-approved oral herbal medicines for anti-cancer treatment.

NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Curt Civin recently discovered that malaria drugs could potentially be used for cancer patients. He found that artemisinins – a class of drugs with low toxicity that are known for successfully treating malaria – are also effective in killing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cancer cells. Through research, he identified ART-838, a specific artemisinin compound that shows remarkable preliminary effectiveness against leukemia cells and works well in combination with established anti-leukemia drugs. In addition, the compound can be given orally and stays active in the bloodstream for a long time. Plus, it doesn’t appear to harm normal bone marrow cells, so it may prove to be an effective new treatment for AML patients.

* The herb Scutellaria baicalensis – shown in the photo on this page – is an ingredient in the PHY906 Chinese herbal formulation.