Seemingly everyone is curious about complementary and alternative medicine, but hard scientific evidence backing it remains scarce. City of Hope researchers, though, are doing their part to change that.
|Scientists will explore the therapeutic properties of blueberries witht he help of a special reqearch grant.|
Four teams of City of Hope researchers have received 2008 Complementary & Alternative Medicine Research Grants from the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. Project topics range from the effects of blueberry extract in breast cancer to the benefits of hypnosis before surgery.
Complementary and alternative medicine includes a variety of health-related systems, practices and products considered outside of today’s conventional medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health. Examples might include traditional Chinese medicine, music therapy, exercise, homeopathy and Ayurveda, as well as supplements, certain foods and mind-body therapies such as meditation. Some refer to it as integrative medicine.
“We’ve been very interested in complementary treatments, but what is evident is that good studies are hard to come by,” said Lily Lai, M.D., member of City of Hope’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Task Force. “Whether it’s the rigorous science or methodology that’s missing from studies on CAM, or the ability to integrate CAM treatments with conventional medicine, these are things that make it very difficult to interpret whether these modalities would be useful in cancer treatment.”
With the support of the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, the CAM Task Force began a grant process to encourage high-quality studies from City of Hope researchers. Eleven groups submitted applications.
Two preclinical and two clinical teams received funding. They included these projects:
• “Modulation of Metastatic Potential of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells by Blueberry
Extract” ($10,000) — Lynn Adams, Ph.D., and Shiuan Chen, Ph.D.
• “Identification of CAM Agents for the Treatment of Diabetes and Colon Cancer”
($8,000) — Barry Forman, M.D., Ph.D., Ruth B. and Robert K. Lanman Chair in Gene
Regulation and Drug Discovery Research
• “Art Therapy Interventions with Caregivers Supporting Pediatric Patients Who Are
Undergoing Bone Marrow Transplants for Cancer” ($10,000) — Kate Kravits, R.N.,
M.A., and Ellen Bolotin, M.D., Ph.D.
• “Use of Preoperative Hypnosis to Reduce Postoperative Pain and Anesthesia-related Side Effects” ($8,000) — Michael Lew, M.D., Carlos Garberoglio, M.D., and Kate Kravits, R.N., M.A.,
Awardees will present their findings at an integrative medicine symposium in spring 2009, Lai said.
“Our intent with these seed grants is to support work that will provide researchers with enough pilot data to pursue outside funding,” explained Annette Mercurio, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., program director for the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center and a member of the CAM Task Force’s grant committee. The project topics fit well with City of Hope physicians’ and scientists’ interests in integrative medicine.
In 2007, CAM Task Force members surveyed City of Hope health-care professionals and research scientists about their attitudes toward aspects of integrative medicine, and results were intriguing.
Exercise prompted the most interest, followed by psychologic support and dietary supplements, said Lai, who noted that psychologic support and dietary ingredients
were well-represented among topics garnering grants. The task force plans to offer
educational sessions on exercise, psychologic support, dietary supplements and other topics of interest in the future.
“We are enthusiastic about the broad interest in a variety of integrative medicine modalities at City of Hope, and look forward to seeing the research expand and grow,” said Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., a member of the CAM Task Force’s grant committee. Chen’s own laboratory and clinical research projects include studies examining the anticancer properties of
mushrooms and grape seed extract.
CAM grant applications were ranked by independent reviewers, who did not include
members of the grant committee.
More than 20 health-care professionals and researchers, including doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and basic scientists, comprise the multidisciplinary CAM Task Force.
For more information about the group, survey or grants, please contact Lai at
firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 67100.