Mucositis is a dangerous side effect that affects tens of thousands of Australians undergoing radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment. It can cause inflammation, ulcers, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort and bloating.
There is currently no cure for mucositis, but University of Adelaide researchers have found that a specific form of traditional Chinese medicine can reduce the severity of radiation-induced gastrointestinal mucositis (GIM) in rats.
The survey, published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology, illustrates the potential benefits of this treatment for those experiencing GIM following radiation therapy for tumors of the abdomen, stomach and pelvis.
The rats underwent radiation to the abdomen as part of the study, which received approval from the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Institutional Animal Ethics Committee.
The compound Kushen Injection (CKI), a traditional Chinese medicine, was given to half of the rats, while the other half was given a control drug. For many years, CKI has been widely used in China either alone or in combination with radiation or chemotherapy.
CKI is created from the roots of the medicinal herbs Kushan and Baituling and is administered in the form of an injectable liquid, according to Professor Adelson, director of Zhendong (Australia-China Center for Traditional Chinese Molecular Medicine). At the School of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, Professor Adelson also holds the chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Genetics.
Compared to the mice given the control drug, the study found that the mice given the abdomen CKI exhibited less severe symptoms of GIM. These results add to previous research showing that CKI significantly affects gene expression in cell lines, including genes that control inflammation. “