New City of Hope program will develop natural cancer-fighting therapies

September 8, 2014
$2.5 million gift from Panda Charitable Foundation funds research into less-toxic treatments
DUARTE, Calif. — Cancer treatments have improved over the years, but one potential source of treatments and cures remains largely untapped: nature. A $2.5 million gift from the Panda Charitable Foundation will help launch the Program in Natural Therapies at City of Hope, helping researchers investigate the potential of foods and other plant-based ingredients to fight disease.
The gift will support the development of therapies based on natural products, encouraging researchers to combat disease through powerful compounds already present in some of the foods and herbs we now eat as part of a healthy diet. By exploring the power of nature, the Natural Therapies program will lead to treatments that help heal patients more effectively than current treatments, but with fewer harsh side effects. Already, City of Hope researchers have identified many natural compounds with cancer-fighting potential.
“City of Hope’s credo is, ‘There is no profit in curing the body if in the process we destroy the soul,’ and this new program reflects that commitment to the whole patient,” said City of Hope President and Chief Executive Robert Stone. “Our researchers and physicians understand our patients’ need for better cancer-fighting therapies with fewer side effects, and we’re grateful to the Panda Charitable Foundation for helping us develop those therapies.”  
The Panda Charitable Foundation gift will specifically expedite the testing of promising novel therapies from three researchers who are investigating natural products’ abilities to treat cancer.
John Yim, M.D., associate professor and surgeon in City of Hope’s Division of Surgical Oncology, is studying the effects of the compound baicalein, found in thyme and the Chinese herb huang qin. The compound has been shown to shrink tumors in breast cancer and to prolong survival of breast cancer patients when used in conjunction with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.
David Horne, Ph.D., interim director of the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, is researching the anti-cancer potential of a compound, known as ETP, made by fungi. Horne and his team redesigned the compound to develop an extremely potent new drug candidate.
Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Cancer Biology, has been exploring the potential of compounds in certain foods – blueberries and mushrooms, for example -- to fight prostate and breast cancer. Now he is researching how the foods themselves might improve outcomes for treatment-resistance breast cancer.
“Panda is honored and humbled to support City of Hope's Natural Therapies Program,” said Dr. Peggy Cherng, Co-CEO, Panda Restaurant Group. “As it directly reflects Panda's spirit of giving, City of Hope and its programs positively impact the lives of patients and their families by being a source for renewed possibilities and hope."
Denise Heady
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About Panda Charitable Foundation and Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.
Panda Charitable Foundation is committed to furthering the spirit of giving, a pillar of Panda Restaurant Group’s mission and value. PCF supports on-going strategic collaborative relationship with non-profits focuses on health and education through grants and sponsorships. Panda Restaurant Group Inc. is the world leader in Asian dining experiences with more than 1,700 locations in 46 states. Founded in 1973, the privately held chain of fast casual, full service and quick service restaurant concepts includes Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi-San. For more information visit, or become a fan on Facebook.
About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics in southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S.News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.