Safety of MRI Contrast Agent QuestionedApril 2016
Gadolinium-based contrast agents, which are used in about 30 percent of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, may not be safe. The metal may settle in the brain, bone, and other organs.
This literature review analyzed studies detailing how gadolinium, a toxic metal used in over 30 million MRI scans each year, stays in the body. Although in health patients gadolinium is supposed to be flushed out of the body, the study showed that significant amounts of gadolinium remain behind, placing patients at great risks.
The study pointed to the gap in scientific knowledge about how to treat gadolinium toxicity. It suggested the further study of drugs that are used to flush out other types of metal toxicities, in the hope that they might be useful for treating gadolinium accumulation.
Long-Used Heart Drug Holds Promise for Treating Eye DisordersMarch 2016
The long-used heart drug dipyridamole is a promising candidate for treating a variety of common eye disorders, including ocular hypertension, glaucoma, inflammatory eye disorders, retinal vascular disorder, pterygium, and dry eye disease.
Because dipyridamole prevents the formation of blood clots, it’s long been used to help prevent second heart attacks, mini-strokes, and post-surgical blood clots. Yet many of the mechanisms that make the drug effective in the vascular system are relevant to conditions that cause eye problems like glaucoma and ocular hypertension. This literature review examined studies, case series, and reports in order to better understand which eye disorders could be treated with dipyridamole and to determine how the drug might be used clinically.
The study concluded that, when administered orally or injected directly in the eye, dipyridamole was very safe, with no significant side effects. While research involving dipyridamole in eye drop form is in its infancy, it seems very promising. Dipyridamole is a readily accessible drug and favorable candidate for treating a variety of eye disorders, including ocular hypertension, glaucoma, inflammatory eye disorders, retinal disorders, pterygium, and dry eye disease.Research Partners: Ariel University
Breakthrough in diagnosis of a rare disorder: Castleman’s diseaseJune 2014
A commonly available blood test, fibrinogen, may be useful in detecting a rare cancer-like disease before it spreads.
In a serendipitous discovery, an association was found between elevated levels of fibrinogen, a clotting protein in the blood, and a rare cancer-like disease disorder known as Castleman’s disease.
This discovery was accidentally discovered by a researcher who was working on one of our projects, gallium, for stopping bleeding from wounds. In the attempt to uncover its mechanism of action, this researcher tested the discovery on their own blood. Unexpectedly, their blood was found to contain enormously elevated fibrinogen. This prompted immediate whole body CT scan which led to the discovery of a 4 cm tumor in the stomach. Due to the early discovery of the disease, a complete cure was achieved with surgery. This case increases the justification for routine fibrinogen testing in order to discover certain diseases in their early stages before they become life-threatening.Research Partners: Centre Hospitalier Regional Universitaire de Lille Universite Lille Nord de France
Breakthrough: Pterygium or “Surfer’s Eye” Successfully Treated without SurgeryMarch 2014
Eye drops that contain the long-used heart drug dipyridamole have been successfully used as a non-surgical alternative to treat pterygium, or “Surfer’s Eye.
Pterygium, commonly known as “Surfer’s Eye,” is a non-cancerous growth on the white part of the eye, and can be caused by sun overexposure, chronically dry eyes, and dust. A person suffering from pterygium often experiences a host of symptoms, including inflammation, burning sensations, blurred vision, and the feeling that there’s something foreign in their eye. Pterygium affects one out of every ten people worldwide.
Historically, pterygium has been treated with surgery. Even then, the growth comes back about half the time. This report, which followed the case of a 35-year-old woman, found that eye drops containing the long-used heart drug dipyridamole reduced the size of the growth and rapidly alleviated her symptoms. This promising result paves the way for more extensive research into dipyridamole’s effectiveness in treating pterygium and other common eye disorders.
Old Mineral Found to Stop Wound BleedingDecember 2013
A mineral called gallium, long used to treat bone-loss in cancer patients, causes wounds to quickly stop bleeding. Notably, gallium has the potential to stop rapid blood loss without the risk of developing internal blood clots.
When the right kind of medical treatment isn’t quickly available, victims of stab-wounds and bleeding soldiers can die on the battlefield. This study reported that gallium nitrate, a mineral long used to alleviate bone loss in cancer patients, causes wounds to rapidly stop bleeding – without the risk of the patient developing internal blood clots.
The researchers delved deeper, exploring how gallium nitrate achieved this feat. The study reported that the mineral causes a blood protein to come together like butter, but only on wounds involving a break to the skin. This intriguing result calls for further research to better understand how gallium nitrate works to stop the bleeding.Research Partners: Centre Hospitalier Regional Universitaire de Lille Universite Lille Nord de France
New Non-Toxic Treatment for Children’s Liver CancerAugust 2013
To avoid toxic chemotherapy, two children with liver cancer were successfully treated with a combination of surgery and a safe biological compound known to stop cancer cell growth.
For children with a liver cancer called hepatoblastoma, traditional chemotherapy can cause blood infections, kidney damage, permanent hearing loss and neurological damage. This study reviewed two cases in which children were instead treated with a combination of surgery and a safe biological compound (Opioid Growth Factor or OGF) known to slow down or stop cancer cell growth. OGF is produced naturally in the body and is known as an endorphin. When levels are deficient, cancer cells grow unchecked.
Despite the short expected survival, one child has been already cancer-free for over 10 years, while the other has been cancer-free for five years. This study highlighted the promise of a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy for children with liver cancer, and the need for further research to confirm this new treatment’s safety and effectiveness.Research Partners: Texas Children’s Cancer Center Baylor College of Medicine The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Encouraging New Treatment for Crohn’s DiseaseDecember 2012
A component of blood plasma, immunoglobulin, holds promise for quickly relieving the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and putting patients into remission.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Those who suffer from the disease, experience debilitating symptoms such as abdominal pain, mouth sores, diarrhea, and fatigue. Drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease typically take months to work, have serious side effects, are expensive, and only help about half of all patients. For the vast majority of sufferers, the disease flares up again within a year.
Immunoglobulin, a component of blood plasma, has been used to treat various autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as Kawasaki disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome. This literature review examined the limited number of published case reports, conference papers, and book and journal articles that reported success with immunoglobulin as a treatment for Crohn’s disease. When administered into patients’ veins, symptoms were alleviated in a matter of days and patients enjoyed remission for a significant time period. The study concluded that the evidence supports undertaking larger studies to confirm the safety and effectiveness of intravenous immunoglobulin to treat Crohn’s disease.
Anti-Allergy Drug Shows Potential to Stop Tumor GrowthJuly 2012
An anti-allergy drug, tranilast, shows potential for treating fast-growing tumors, such as those found in cancers of the breast, pancreas, uterus, mouth, prostate, and brain.
There is substantial evidence that tranilast, a drug widely used in Japan to treat asthma and autoimmune diseases, shows promise for treating conditions characterized by rapid cell growth. The drug could potentially stop or slow the growth of tumors, such as those found in cancers of the prostate, breast, pancreas, uterus, mouth, and brain.
This literature review, which summarized laboratory research and studies involving humans and animals, sought to determine why tranilast works. The authors identified several possibilities, and suggested that tranilast’s effectiveness, combined with its low toxicity, make this safe drug ideal for additional research and use in humans.
Hair Loss Treatment Demonstrates Versatility in Treating Range of ConditionsSeptember 2011
A herb extract long used in Japan to reverse hair loss has the potential to treat a wide range of conditions, including allergies, low platelet and white blood cell counts, venomous snakebites, inflammation, and malaria.
The herb extract cepharanthine has long been used in Japan to reverse hair loss. This study reviewed a body of cepharanthine research that points to its potential to treat a variety of conditions, including allergies, blood infections, low platelet and white blood cell counts, venomous snakebites, inflammation, and malaria.
The extract appears to have antioxidant properties, as well as to slow or stop the growth of tumors, limit the reproduction of HIV cells, increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy, and reverse drug resistance in cancer patients. This literature review noted that, while cepharanthine hasn’t been subjected to a structured research program, studies to date provide solid evidence that the drug is very safe and versatile in treating a range of conditions.
Simple Blood Test Could Help Pinpoint Ineffective Cancer TreatmentsJuly 2010
A simple blood test can likely take the place of an invasive tumor biopsy to identify a genetic mutation that renders chemotherapy ineffective in some colorectal and pancreatic cancer patients.
Ineffective colorectal and pancreatic cancer treatments are both arduous and costly. The presence of a specific genetic mutation (K-ras) can predict that certain chemotherapy treatments will be ineffective. This mutation is typically discovered through a tumor biopsy, which is an invasive and expensive procedure.
This literature review examined studies that tested both tumors and blood for the same mutation, and found that mutations in the blood could predict mutations in the tumor. This paves the way for the development of a noninvasive blood test that could help alleviate ineffective chemotherapy treatments.
Common Cough Syrup Ingredient May Treat Prostate CancerNovember 2008
Once prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, there are few available treatments. A common cough syrup ingredient, noscapine, has the potential to keep prostate cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.
Prior studies have shown that a common cough syrup ingredient, noscapine, limits the growth of certain types of cancer. This study’s authors found that noscapine reduced tumor growth and the spread of prostate cancer in mice. As such, noscapine has the potential to keep prostate cancer from recurring.
Once prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, there are few available treatments. Indeed, prostate cancer kills more than 28,000 U.S. men each year. The research team suggested that noscapine, which can be taken by mouth and is nontoxic, should be tested on human subjects in the aftermath of prostate cancer surgery or radiation.Research Partners: University of California San Diego Prostate Cancer Research Institute Anti Cancer Incorporated
Study Unearths How Common Skin Cancer Drug WorksAugust 2008
Researchers discovered how a drug commonly used to treat skin cancer works, paving the way for the development of similar drugs, combination drug therapies, and new uses for the existing drug.
Although imiquimod is a drug commonly used to treat skin cancer, scientists haven’t understood how the drug stops cells from growing. This study found that imiquimod is dependent upon the meeting of a certain protein and peptide.
In addition to treating skin cancer, imiquimod is used for genital and anal warts, scaly skin patches, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and hepatitis C. Understanding how the drug works paves the way for novel uses, the development of similar drugs, and combination drug therapies.Research Partners: The Pennsylvania State University
Crohn’s Disease Helped by Heroin Addiction DrugApril 2007
Low doses of naltrexone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction, can quickly and inexpensively alleviate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, a debilitating autoimmune disorder, without the side effects of traditional drug therapies.
Classified as an autoimmune disorder, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, malnutrition, and weight loss. Typically, Crohn’s disease is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs that can have serious side effects.
In this pilot study, researchers investigated the effects of a low dose of the synthetic drug naltrexone on patients with Crohn’s disease. It was the first study to demonstrate that the drug, which in high doses is used to treat heroin addiction, decreases patients’ symptoms and improves their quality of life. The authors noted that, in contrast to traditional treatments, naltrexone worked quickly and cost little.Research Partners: The Pennsylvania State University