The US Office of Alternative Medicine is set to investigate the effectiveness of non-conventional treatment for allergies and cancer.
The office, part of the National Institutes of Health, was created last year after prompting from Congress to screen and evaluate promising alternative therapies. The three most likely initial candidates for research are: the use of bee pollen in treating allergies; shark cartilage infusions for cancer treatment; and derivatives from amino acids, also for cancer treatment.
The Institute is hoping to conduct two prospective controlled clinical studies of these derivatives in 60 adult patients with brain tumours. In general, the evaluation processes will take the form of searching through and analyzing medical literature for information on treatment effectiveness.
The moves are largely in response to pressure from patients who are demanding to know more about non-conventional therapies. At a meeting of the office's advisory panel, one doctor said that, every day, she is asked by women with breast cancer about taking shark cartilage infusions. 'I would like to have the answer,' she added.