Ancient Chinese thunder god vine kills tumors in mice

gamma knife njThe gods have spoken. Or at least the thunder god vine did when it wiped out pancreatic tumors in mice during a recent lab experiment. According to Radiosurgery NJ experts, a drug made from the ancient Chinese plant, also known as lei gong teng, may soon be tested in humans after successful clinical trials proved its potency against cancer.

Mice treated with the thunder god vine showed no signs of tumors after 40 days or after discontinuing the treatment, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center.

“This drug is just unbelievably potent in killing tumor cells,” said Ashok Saluja, vice chairman of research at the center and the study’s leader. “You could see that every day you looked at those mice, the tumor was decreasing and decreasing, and then just gone.”

Apparently, the thunder god vine contains triptolide, which is an active toxin that can cause cancer cells to die. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. While the researchers hope to start human trials within six months, Saluja said it’s still a long leap from mice to people.

If successful, the plant could save millions of lives. About 44,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 20 percent of patients survive a year after diagnosis. By extracting the potent chemicals of thunder god vine, researchers may theoretically be able to do away with expensive, highly technical cancer treatments like gamma knife NJ surgery and chemotherapy.

Thunder god vine grows natively in China, Japan and Korea, and has been a mainstay in traditional medicine for hundreds of years. The plant is a favourite for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Scientists have been aware of its benefits for some time – in 2007 it was found to prevent kidney cysts in mice – but the tests with the substance are thought to be something of a breakthrough. Even for patients diagnosed at the earliest stages of their cancer when the odds are better, only about 14 percent survive five years or longer, according to the American Cancer Society.

The new drug has been called Minnelide, a combination of Minnesota and triptolide. Researchers developed a water soluble version that could be injected into mice, and in the future administered to patients intravenously.

To speed up development and testing, Saluja and his team have formed a company, Minneamrita Therapeutics, which will attempt to take the drug into the first of three stages of human clinical trials that are generally required before U.S. regulatory approval.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Drug Afinitor Wins FDA Approval

The FDA has given its stamp of approval on Afinitor, a drug already approved for kidney cancer treatment, to be used for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

This drug works in a rare type of pancreatic tumor called neuroendocrine tumors which are very slow-growing and rare. Neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer (PNENT) is was Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, was diagnosed with back in 2003.

In a FDA press release Dr. Rchard Pazdur commented, “Patients with this cancer have few effective treatment options. Afinitor has demonstrated the ability to slow the growth and spread of neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas.”

In a clinical trial 410 patients diagnosed with PNENT, untreatable with surgery were randomly assigned to a placebo or Afinitor treatment. The results showed that Afinitor increased the amount of time that patients had no change in tumor growth from 4.6 months to 11 months.

Other treatment options for for pancreatic cancer includes chemothereapy, cryoablation, inferon and brachytherapy California.

New Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Shrinks Tumor, Extends Life Expectancy

A new pancreatic cancer treatment is in the works which is proving itself to be effective in shrinking tumors and extending the life expectancy in patients with this deadly and surgically incurable form of cancer.

Treatment Attacks the “Scaffolding”

The treatment, known as CP-870,893, is an antibody infusion given one time per month which activates the body’s own immune system to attack the “scaffolding” around the cancers cells. This treatment is different from traditional treatments because rather than attacking the cancer cells themselves, it uses the power of the immune molecules to breakdown the infrastructure supporting the growth of the pancreatic cancer.

“It’s a bit like attacking a brick wall by dissolving the mortar in he brick wall without actually having to bash down the bricks themselves. The immune system was able to eat away at this tissue surrounding the cancer and the cancer really fell apart in the face of that,” explained lead author Robert Vonderheide.

In the study published in Science University of Pennsylvania researchers gave 21 patients the antibody treatment, along with the standard gemcitabine treatment for pancreatic cancer. A surprising 5 patients displayed tumor regression of 30% or more. This is significant because with gemcitabine only 1 in 20 patients are expected to show tumor regression. Furthermore, those tho receive the combination treatment had on average 5.6 months without cancer progression, compared with only 2.3 months with gemitabine alone. Overall the new treatment extended the lives of these patients by 2 months.

Improving the Treatment Options for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. More than 95 percent of those diagnosed do not survive beyond 5 years. A person is usually asymptomatic until the cancer has already reached advanced stages, making the tumor inoperable in more than 80 percent of cases.

The findings of the pancreatic cancer treatment is small but significant, says William C. Phelps, from the American Cancer Society. “In pancreatic cancer, any effect is remarkable. The fact that he sees even in a small study some benefit is pretty remarkable.”

The drug is still in clinical trials and and if all goes well will likely still be several more years before it would be available for clinical use.