OCCAM represents NCI at leading Integrative Oncology conference
From left to right, Drs. White, Zia, Banerji, Olaku, Sarter and Bell take questions from the audience.
This year’s meeting, held from October 8-10, 2012, focused on the overarching theme of “Honoring Diversity in Cancer Prevention and Control,” with speakers presenting basic science, preclinical, and clinical research in fields ranging from acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, mind-body approaches, and much more. OCCAM showed a strong research presence at this year’s SIO. The office sponsored an exhibit booth where attendees could speak with OCCAM staff about funding, patient education, and receive grant application guidance. In addition to the booth, OCCAM staff members both presented and moderated panels.
Drs. Farah Zia, Oluwadamilola Olaku, and Jeffrey D. White, conducted a workshop entitled the “NCI Best Case Series Protocol: How to Move Research Forward.” The workshop highlighted the case series submitted to the NCI Best Case Series (BCS) Program by the P. Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation in Calcutta, India.
The workshop had several goals including stimulating discussion specific to the available evidence for the homeopathic Banerji Protocol therapy. In addition, NCI BCS investigators, Drs. Zia and Olaku, engaged participants in discussions about the utility of the protocol design in assessing medical cases and its use as justification for further research. An overarching goal of the workshop was to encourage the integrative oncology community to conduct collaborative research, specifically linking the clinical practitioners with the researchers to build strong bridges to future investigations.
Drs. Prasanta and Pratip Banerji, of the P. Banerij Homeopathic Research Foundation, along with Dr. Barbara Sarter, Associate Professor, Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of San Diego, and Dr. Iris R. Bell of the University of Arizona, presented their involvement with the cases, including direct clinical care and/or research regarding homeopathic remedies.
Dr. Sarter spoke about her time working with the Drs. Banerji: “In February 2008, I took a sabbatical from my faculty position in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Southern California in order to learn the Banerji Protocol in Calcutta at the PBH Research Foundation. I had received a diploma in classical homeopathy before I went to Calcutta, but never truly embraced this system of medicine until I spent those five months with the Banerjis. Since then, I have directed my time and abilities to advancing the research effort and data mining at the Foundation.”
Dr. Bell presented her research on “Homeopathic Remedies as Nanoparticles.” She discussed the properties of nanoparticles, such as their high surface area to volume ratio, a characteristic that changes their material properties. In her presentation she explained that nanoparticles have “high bioavailability; easily cross cell membranes as well as the blood-brain barrier; require smaller and less frequent doses, [and have] lower side effects.”
Dr. Farah Zia, Director of the Case Review and Intramural Science Program (CRISP) at OCCAM, and moderator of this workshop, noted that: “The Banerji case series is a prime example of a seemingly successful ’Best Case Series’ deserving of further laboratory and clinical research. The mission of CRISP is to improve the quality of care of cancer patients by a rigorous scientific evaluation of cancer CAM interventions and by facilitating prospective research for certain CAM interventions with the goal of developing them into novel therapeutics. In order to achieve this objective, we must foster the building of bridges between the clinical and research communities. We applaud researchers, such as Dr. Bell, whose research is exciting, innovative, and forms the platform on which further ideas will be built; furthermore, we encourage practitioners to submit their best cases of cancer patients treated with an unconventional cancer treatment to the NCI Best Case Series Protocol. More information is available at http://cam.cancer.gov. Continued dialogue among and between the practitioner and research communities, such as the current workshop, will continue to shed light on ways to achieve our unified goal.”
Dr. Libin Jia, Health Scientist Administrator at OCCAM, moderated two separate sessions entitled “Clinical Science Abstracts: Methodological Issues in Integrative Oncology Research” and “Evaluation of Herbal Medicine: A Cross-Cultural Discussion”.
Dr. Jia noted that the presentations in the Clinical Science Abstracts session represented a wide variety of methodological approaches in research focused on Traditional Chinese Medicine, exercise interventions, and yoga practices, among others. Dr. Misha Cohen, OMD, LAc from University of California at San Francisco explored methodological challenges of clinical Chinese herbal medicine. She stated that proper provision of the Certificates of Analysis (COA) and documentation for Investigational New Drugs (IND) is critical to Chinese herbal medicine research in oncology settings.
Dr. Jia also co-moderated the round table session titled “Evaluation of Herbal Medicine: A Cross-Cultural Discussion.” Speakers from the United States, China, and other countries exchanged ideas on herbal medicine in terms of quality control of the starting materials, and the policy and regulations among different entities such as the United States, European Union, and China. Themes that emerged included the need for emphasis on the standardization of the herbal medicines in the research and clinical setting and interest in knowing more about safety issues surrounding the use of herbal medicines in the United States and abroad.
Dr. Jeffrey D. White, OCCAM Director, was part of a plenary discussion on “Funding in Integrative Oncology Research” that overviewed three different funding streams from the government, for profit, and non-profit sectors. Dr. White gave a brief summary of the NCI grant application and review process and answered several questions as part of a panel of the session speakers which included Eveline Mumenthaler from the Gateway for Cancer Research and Kerri Diamant, Founder and Executive Director, AlterMed Research Foundation.
Ms. Elizabeth Austin, M.S., Coordinator of OCCAM’s Communications and Outreach Program, was an invited speaker as part of the “Exploring Web-Based Information Resources on Complementary Therapies in Integrative Oncology” workshop. The web-based technologies workshop highlighted the Physician Data Query (PDQ®) Complementary and Alternative Medicine information summaries (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq).
Several new summaries have been added in the past year including “Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements (PDQ®),” featuring information about the use of nutrition and dietary supplements for reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer or for treating prostate cancer. Other resources highlighted included the Memorial Sloan Kettering “About Herbs” website: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/about-herbs-botanicals-other-products and the CAM-Cancer resource of information summaries hosted by the National Information Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIFAB) at the University of Tromsø, Norway (http://www.cam-cancer.org/CAM-Summaries).
Each year the SIO conference brings together some the most experienced researchers and practitioners of integrative oncology. For more information about the society visit: http://www.integrativeonc.org/.