Drug derived from Chinese herb aided brain tumor-stricken mice

A drug made in part from the Chinese medicinal herb Angelica sinensis doubled the life expectancy of mice with a rare brain tumor, according to research from China Medical University.

The China News Service, via Focus Taiwan news channel, reports on the finding concerning preclinical tests to treat the glioblastoma multiform tumor, a particularly lethal and aggressive form of brain cancer with a 5-year survival rate of just 3.4 percent, the story explains.

Of the mice tested in the trial, 35 percent lived for up to 250 days after one treatment, apparently double the span without the drug. And the mice, according to the story, showed no side effects.

The article presents some alarming statistics: This tumor is fast and dangerous, with the ability to grow 16 times its normal size in just 30 days, and patients don't always get diagnosed until the cancer is already highly advanced. As a result, they often live no more than 18 months on average after the diagnosis. So a viable drug to treat this kind of cancer is necessary. Human trials will follow, but the process can take years and there is no guarantee, unfortunately, that the treatment will work effectively in humans with the rare brain tumor.

China Medical University's Harn Horng-jyh led the research, which involves the testing of a drug with z-butylidenephthalide as the main ingredient. The compound is drawn from the Chinese medicinal herb Angelica sinesis. Horng-jyh is working with an unnamed biotechnology company to develop the compound, the article states.

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