Since the late 1980s, anticancer properties of sweet wormwood artemisinins have been assayed in vitro. After more detailed studies Kelter G. in 2007, and Efferth T. in 2001, artemisinins were found to be active against a variety of unrelated tumour cells lines, from the most common types such as colon, breast and lung cancers to leukemia and pancreatic cancer. Studies have also identified potential general mechanisms such as normalization of the upregulated Wnt/β-catenin pathway in colorectal cancer. Other pathways for anticancer activity include inhibition of enhanced angiogenesis associated with tumours.
Anticancer activity of sweet wormwood extract, Artemisinin, has been documented in human trials and individual clinical cases. Sweet wormwood extract, Artemisinin, have been used in cancer therapy, and they have been shown to be well tolerated without significant side effects.It has been hypothesized that iron-activated Artemisinin induce damage by release of highly alkylating carbon-centered radicals and radical oxygen species (ROS). Radicals may play a role in the cell alterations reported in Artemisinin-treated cancer cells such as enhanced apoptosis, arrest of growth, inhibition of angiogenesis, and DNA damage.
Before any drug is released to public consumption, it must undergo rigorous research. The final step into production for human consumption is clinical trial. Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. They are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab. Most treatments we use today are the results of past clinical trials. Clinical trials are one of the last steps in the long process of bringing a new pharmaceutical product to the market. Before such a product can be approved by the regulatory authorities, it must be proven to be efficacious and safe in the targeted patient population. The clinical development program for a new product involves many clinical trials and includes many thousands of trial participants.
Clinical evidence has accumulated showing that Artemisinin and Artemisinin-derived drugs have promise for treatment of laryngeal carcinomas, uveal melanomas and pituitary macroadenomas. Sweet wormwood extract is also in phase I-II trials for treatment of breast, colorectal and non-small cell lung cancers. Similarly, a clinical trial, by Zhang in 2008, in 120 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer has shown that sweet wormwood extract in combination with a chemotherapy regimen of vinorelbine and cisplatin elevated 1-year survival rate by 13% with a significant improvement in disease control and time to progression. No additional related side effects were reported.
In a study by Singh and Panwar in 2006, Sweet wormwood extract, Artemisinin, was used to treat a 75-year old male patient with pituitary macroadenoma. This patient presented with vision, hearing, and locomotion-related problems as a consequence of his disease. Sweet wormwood extract was administered orally to the patient over a period of 12 months. Although the tumor remained consistent in size, CT scans showed a reduction in tumor density, and clinically, the related symptoms and signs improved significantly as therapy progressed. The patient also reported that he benefited much from this treatment. It actually prolonged his life and improved his quality of life. Overall, the artemisinins treatment was beneficial in improving the patient’s quality of life.
In another study by Sanjeev in 2014, a randomized, double Blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of oral Artemisinins therapy for Colorectal Cancer was done on 20 patients. The primary objective of this study was to determine the effects of oral Sweet Wormwood extract, Artemisinins, in inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in patients awaiting surgical treatment of colorectal adenocarcinoma. Apoptosis in > 7% of cells was seen in 67% and 55% of patients in artemisinins and placebo groups, respectively. Hence, Artemisinins has anti-proliferative properties in Colorecetal Cancer and is generally well tolerated.
In 2008, Zhang design a study to compare the efficacy and toxicity of Artemisinins treatment combined with NP (a chemotherapy regimen of vinorelbine and cisplatin) and NP alone in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). One hundred and twenty cases of advanced NSCLC were randomly divided into a chemotherapy group and a combined Artemisinins with chemotherapy therapy group. Patients in the control group were treated with the chemotherapy regimenof vinorelbine and cisplatin. Patients in the trial group were treated with the chemotherapy regimensupplemented with intravenous Artemisinins injections. The disease controlled rate of the trial group(88.2%) was significantly higher than that of the control group (72.7%) (P < 0.05), and the trialgroup’s time to disease progression (24 weeks) was significantly longer than that of thecontrol group (20 weeks). Therefore,Artemisinins combined with chemotherapy can increase the disease controlled rateand prolong the time to progression of patients with advanced NSCLC without significantside effects.
Singh and Verma in 2002 reported that Artemisinins was successfully used in the treatment of laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma wheretreated patients showed a substantial reduction in tumor size (by 70%) after two months oftreatment. Overall, Artemisinins treatment of the patient was beneficial in prolongingand improving quality of life. Without treatment, laryngeal cancer patients die within anaverage of 12 months.
Furthermore, Berger in 2005 proved that Artemisinins used in combination with standardchemotherapy increased survival and substantially reduced metastasis in patients with malignantskin cancer. These patients with metastatic uveal melanoma weretreated after standard chemotherapy alone was ineffective instopping tumor growth.This patient is still alive 47 months after first diagnosis withstage IV uveal melanoma, a diagnosis with a median survival of 2-5 months, without additionalside effects.
In conclusion, Sweet Wormwood extract, Artemisinin, are largely non-toxic, with related compounds having been administered to over 2 million patients; both children and adult, world-wide without reports of significant seriousside effects, and Artemisinins are very inexpensive when compared to conventional cancer drugs.The final results of current clinical trials utilizing Artemisinins as therapy or adjunct against a wide variety of cancers have not yet been published although initial findings released suggest positive results. Other cases describing the use of Artemisinins for treatment of cancerhave been reported in the Cancer Smart Bomb Part I and II study (White, 2002)
Written by Dr. Benz Napoli