Professor Ming Hu from the University of Houston - pharmacy is developing and testing an ancient Chinese herbal medicine formula, first described in AD 280, to improve cancer therapy. Hu believes that Xiao Chai Hu Tang can protect people taking the chemotherapy drug Irinotecan from a deadly side effect: severe late-onset diarrhea.
Our goal with Xiao Chai Hu Tang is to allow more people to benefit from treatment with irinotecan, which is often the drug of last resort for patients with late-stage or metastatic cancer. "
Ming Hu, the Diana SL. Chow Drug Discovery and Development Professor at University of Houston.
The clinical use of irinotecan is severely limited by severe diarrhea that results in poor quality of life, hospitalization, and even death.
Hu and her colleagues Romi Ghose, associate professor of pharmacy at UH and Song Gao of Texas Southern University, received $ 996,162 from the National Cancer Institute to investigate the effectiveness of the ancient formula. They will also work with Lijun Zhu of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine in China to determine the agent's effectiveness in a clinical trial.
Irinotecan is undoubtedly a powerful weapon against cancer, but many who take it develop severe late-onset diarrhea, probably caused by SN-38, the active metabolite of the drug. In the intestine, SN-38 can damage intestinal cells and affect their renewal.
"Intestinal cells have UGT enzymes that detoxify the active metabolite of the drug, but we found that SN-38 can also inactivate and reduce UGT enzymes in the intestine. This creates a vicious cycle. About 1 in 5 patients will fall into this vicious cycle, which it leads to discontinuation of therapy, decreased efficacy, or even death, "Hu said. She has shown that Xiao Chai Hu Tang protects UGT enzymes and reduces severe diarrhea, and with the new grant will develop it further, for testing and approvals.
Xiao Chai Hu Tang is actively used in China, Japan, and Korea for liver protection. This is the first case in which it has been shown to protect the gut from SN-38 (the active metabolite of the drug irinotecan), making UGT enzymes more resistant to the impact of SN-38.
"Our long-term goal is to develop experimental therapies and / or nutritional complementary approaches to reduce severe late-onset diarrhea so that patients can maintain their chemotherapy," Hu said.