Toad Venom In Cancer Treatment: Traditional Chinese Medicine Is Well-tolerated

Huachansu, a Chinese medicine that comes from the dried venom secreted by the skin glands of toads, has tolerable toxicity levels, even at doses eight times those normally administered, and may slow disease progression in some cancer patients, say researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

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The results from the Phase I clinical study, a collaborative research project between M. D. Anderson and Fudan University Cancer Hospital in Shanghai, are reported in the online Early View feature of the journal Cancer. The study marks the first time a formal clinical trial has examined the relationship between huachansu dose and toxicity, although the drug is common in China and approved by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration.

Huachansu is widely used to treat patients with liver, lung, colon and pancreatic cancer at oncology clinics in China. Chinese clinical trials conducted since the 1970s have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of huachansu, citing total response rates of 10 percent and 16 percent observed in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma and lung cancer, respectively1,2.

“Studying traditional Chinese medicine such as huachansu is new to American research institutions, which have been skeptical and slow to adopt these complementary treatments. However, it is important to understand its potential role in treating cancer,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., one of the paper’s authors and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at M. D. Anderson. “We wanted to apply a Western medicine-based approach to explore the role of the toad venom compound in cancer patients and test if it is possible to deliver a more potent dose without raising toxicities or side effects.”

Read more: SciencDaily

Kirtland Peterson

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