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Could toad venom cure cancer?


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Could toad venom cure cancer?

September 26, 10:03 AMCharlotte Health and Happiness

Scientists from MD Anderson are exploring toad venom for cancer treatment. The researchers say a drug used in China, huachansu, derived from dried toad venom, could slow the progression of cancer for some patients, following results of a Phase 1 clinical trial.

The findings are published online in the journal Cancer. The study is the result of a collaborative effort between M. D. Anderson and Fudan University Cancer Hospital in Shanghai. According to Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., one of the paper's authors and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at M. D. Anderson, exploring toad venom as a cancer treatment has been met with skepticism in the past. “However, it is important to understand its potential role in treating cancer”

The researchers combined Western and Eastern medicine to find that patients with liver cancer, nonsmall cell lung cancer, or pancreatic cancer tolerated high doses of a combination of huachansu and gemcitabine (Gemzar®), a chemotherapy drug used to treat several types of cancer. They found that treating cancer with higher doses of the toad venom derivative huachansu than conventionally used in China prevented progression of cancer, without toxic side effects.

Zhiqiang Meng, principal investigator on the trial and an associate professor and deputy chair of the Department of Integrative Oncology at Fudan University Cancer Hospital says results of the Phase 1 trial using a combination of huachansu, derived from dried toad venom used for cancer treatment are encouraging.

"Even though we saw no complete or partial response (reduction of disease by 30 percent or more) it is encouraging that the cancer did not progress in a large set of the hepatocellular carcinoma patients. Previous observations from studies conducted in China have shown that huachansu can inhibit tumor cell growth and improve immunologic function3. These findings, coupled with that knowledge, demonstrate the need for further clinical trials of this promising agent."

A Phase II clinical trial is underway at Fudan University Cancer Hospital in collaboration with M. D. Anderson to compare the effects of huachansu, made from dried toad venom, combined with gemcitabine (Gemzar®) to placebo and gemcitabine. In China, huachansu is widely used to treat liver, lung, colon and pancreatic cancer following studies in the 1970’s showing that dried toad venom has anti-cancer properties.

MD Anderson

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