Novel Chinese herbal medicine JSK improves spinal cord injury outcomes in rats

Contact: Daphne Watrin d.watrin@iospress.nl 31-206-883-355 IOS Press

Findings published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience

Amsterdam, NL, August 19, 2013 – A new study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience demonstrates that Chinese herbal medicine Ji-Sui-Kang (JSK), given systemically for three weeks after injury in rats, improved locomotor function, reduced tissue damage, and preserved the structure of neural cells compared to control rats. The report also includes data showing that JSK may first act to reduce inflammation and cell apoptosis and death, and boost local oxygen supply while, later on, it appears to restore function and promote tissue regeneration.

Although Chinese herbal medicines have traditionally been used for a variety of ailments, the rationale for their use relies more on anecdotal evidence than the results of modern-day controlled experiments.

“A number of anecdotal reports from Chinese medicine practitioners indicate that treatment with a novel herbal formulation, JSK, for periods of one week or three months improved functional recovery,” explains co-lead investigator Shucui Jiang, MD, PhD, head of the Hamilton NeuroRestorative Group at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. “Our present study provides an important and necessary foundation for further studies of JSK.”

In this study rats began JSK treatment immediately after undergoing spinal cord injury. Within 7 days, hindlimb locomotor function was significantly better in JSK-treated rats compared to those receiving only saline. JSK-treated rats continued to have better motor function than controls throughout the 21-day test period and treated animals appeared to support their weight better and have more coordinated movements.

When the investigators looked at histological samples of the spinal cord, they found that the architecture of the spinal cord was better preserved in JSK-treated animals and the size of the injured area was significantly smaller 7 days after injury. JSK-treated animals also showed more intact axons and myelin in the injured areas compared to controls. Other encouraging signs were less deposition of fibrinogen in the injured areas of JSK-treated animals, a decrease in pro-inflammatory COX-2 expression, and fewer cell deaths at the lesion site (as measured by caspase-3 staining).

JSK also increased the expression of growth associated protein 43 (GAP43), a marker of neuronal development and axonal regeneration, and neuroglobulin, a protein found in cerebral neurons that is thought to help neurons survive and recover after trauma. “Our data suggest that JSK may enhance tissue recovery by reducing cell growth inhibitors and by promoting the proliferation of cells within the injured spinal cord,” says co-lead investigator Michel P. Rathbone, MD, CHB, PhD, Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Other findings suggest JSK might help protect against injury caused by damage to spinal cord blood vessels. For instance, JSK increased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein involved in the formation and growth of blood vessels, down-regulated clotting-associated genes, and promoted factors that contribute to vasodilation.

The authors say that JSK targets multiple biochemical and cellular pathways that may help protect against the primary traumatic injury as well as subsequent secondary injuries that evolve over time.

The authors do not disclose the complete herbal composition of JSK for proprietary reasons. Some of its ingredients include Ginseng, Rhizoma (chuan xiong), Glycyrrhizae Radix (gan cao), Paeoniae Alba Radix (bai shao) and Cinnamomi Cortex (rou gui).

Support for adjunctive vitamin C treatment in cancer

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Amy Gleason Quarshie
agleason@liebertpub.com
914-740-2149
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

New Rochelle, NY, March 5, 2009—Serious flaws in a recent study, which concluded that high doses of vitamin C reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs in the treatment of cancer, are revealed in the current issue of Alternative and Complementary Therapies, a journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com). This report is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/act

In the Medical Journal Watch column of the latest issue, Jack Challem, a personal nutrition coach and nutrition author from Tucson, Arizona, and a regular contributor to the Journal, challenges the findings of a study published in Cancer Research (2008;68:8031-8038), in which the authors conclude that vitamin C given to mice or cultured cells treated with common anti-cancer drugs reduces the antitumor effects of the chemotherapeutic agents.

Challem points out two main problems with the study: the oxidized form of vitamin C (dehydroascorbic acid) and not actual vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was used; and in the mouse experiments, the animals were given toxic doses of dehydroascorbic acid, a compound that is not used as a dietary supplement in humans.

“This study and the subsequent headlines [it generated] were a grievous disservice to physicians and patients with cancer,” says Challem. He adds that “considerable positive research…has shown striking benefits from high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in cancer cells and animals—and in actual human beings.”

High-dose intravenous vitamin C is a common form of alternative and complementary therapy for patients receiving chemotherapeutic drugs and is believed to help bring about tumor cell death. In addition, it may promote postsurgical healing by enhancing collagen formation, and increase tissue resistance to tumor spread.

Challem suggests that, “The ideal therapeutic approach would be to tailor individual treatment, including IV vitamin C, from a menu of options.”

 

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Alternative and Complementary Therapies is a bimonthly journal that publishes original research articles, reviews, and commentaries evaluating alternative therapies and how they can be integrated into clinical practice. Topics include botanical medicine, vitamins and supplements, nutrition and diet, mind-body medicine, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, ayurveda, indigenous medicine systems, homeopathy, naturopathy, yoga and meditation, manual therapies, energy medicine, and spirituality and health. A complete table of contents and free sample issue may be viewed online at http://www.liebertpub.com/act

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com), is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, Medical Acupuncture, and Journal of Medicinal Food. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at www.liebertpub.com

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 140 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, NY 10801-5215
Phone: (914) 740-2100 (800) M-LIEBERT Fax: (914) 740-2101
www.liebertpub.com

Mushroom-Derived Compound Lengthens Survival in Dogs With Cancer, Study Suggests: Yunzhi mushroom

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2012) — Dogs with hemangiosarcoma that were treated with a compound derived from the Coriolus versicolor mushroom had the longest survival times ever reported for dogs with the disease. These promising findings offer hope that the compound may one day offer cancer patients — human and canine alike — a viable alternative or complementary treatment to traditional chemotherapies.

The study was conducted by two University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine faculty. Dorothy Cimino Brown is professor and chair of the Department of Clinical Studies and director of the Veterinary Clinical Investigation Center. Jennifer Reetz is an attending radiologist in the Department of Clinical Studies. They published their findings in an open-access article in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The Coriolus versicolor mushroom, known commonly as the Yunzhi mushroom, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. The compound in the mushroom that is believed to have immune-boosting properties is polysaccharopeptide, or PSP. In the last two decades, some studies have suggested that PSP also has a tumor-fighting effect.

“There have been a series of studies looking at groups of people with cancer,” Cimino Brown said. “The issue with those studies is that they weren’t necessarily measuring what most people would think is the most clinically important result, which is, do people taking PSP live longer?”

To address this critical question, Cimino Brown and Reetz pursued a study in dogs with naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive, invasive cancer that arises from the blood cells and typically affects the spleen. It commonly strikes golden retrievers and German shepherds.

Fifteen dogs that had been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma participated in the trial. Divided into three groups of five, each group received a different dose — 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day — of I’m-Yunity, a formulation of PSP that has been tested for consistency and good manufacturing processes.

The owners were instructed to give their dog capsules of I’m-Yunity, compounded by Penn pharmacists, daily. Each month, the owners brought their dogs to Penn’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital for follow-up visits. There, the researchers took blood samples and conducted ultrasounds to determine the extent that tumors developed or grew and spread in the dogs’ bodies.

Based on the ultimate endpoints — how quickly the tumors progressed and how long the dogs actually lived — the results of the researchers’ trial suggest that the I’m-Yunity was effectively fighting the tumors.

“We were shocked,” Cimino Brown said. “Prior to this, the longest reported median survival time of dogs with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen that underwent no further treatment was 86 days. We had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom as treatment.”

There were not statistically significant differences in survival between the three dosage groups, though the median survival time was highest in the 100 mg group, at 199 days, eclipsing the previously reported median survival time.

The results were so surprising, in fact, that the researchers asked Penn Vet pathologists to recheck the dogs’ tissue biopsies to make sure that the dogs really had the disease.

“They reread the samples and said, yes, it’s really hemangiosarcoma,” Cimino Brown said.

Chemotherapy is available for treating hemangiosarcoma, but many owners opt not to pursue that treatment once their dog is diagnosed.

“It doesn’t hugely increase survival, it’s expensive and it means a lot of back and forth to the vet for the dog,” Cimino Brown said. “So you have to figure in quality of life.”

While I’m-Yunity is not inexpensive, if proven effective, it would offer owners a way of extending their pet’s life without regular trips to the vet. As an added benefit, Cimino Brown and Reetz have found no evidence of adverse effects from the PSP treatment.

The researchers are now getting ready to pursue further trials of I’m-Yunity in dogs with hemangiosarcoma to confirm and refine their results. One trial will compare I’m-Yunity to a placebo for those owners who opt not to pursue chemotherapy in their pet and another will compare the compound to standard-of-care chemotherapy.

Depending on those results, veterinarians could eventually prescribe the compound for treating hemangiosarcoma, and perhaps other cancers, in dogs. The company that manufacturers I’m-Yunity may also pursue large-scale clinical trials in humans.

“Although hemangiosarcoma is a very sad and devastating disease,” Cimino Brown said, “in the long term, if we prove that this works, this treatment can be a really nice alternative for owners to have increased quality time with their pet at the end of its life.”

The study was funded by a grant from Chinese Medicine Holdings LTD