FYI: Herbal Formula Silences Peanut Allergy in Mice

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 9:55am
tracy's picture
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FYI! This sounds exciting!

--Tracy

Herbal formula silences peanut allergy in mice
[url="http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=healthNews&storyID=2..."]http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticl...&archived=False[/url]
By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treatment of peanut allergic mice with the Chinese herbal formula known as FAHF-2 completely blocks peanut-induced allergic reactions for up to 6 months following therapy and full protection is restored following a second course of FAHF-2, investigators report.

These observations, if reproducible in humans, suggest that this Chinese herbal formula may be a highly effective treatment for peanut allergy, study investigators say. The findings were presented Tuesday in Miami at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's annual meeting.

Following treatment with FAHF-2 for 7 weeks, peanut-allergic mice were completely protected against peanut-induced reactions following oral challenges administered up to 34 weeks after treatment, lead investigator Dr. Kamal D. Srivastava from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York reported.

Subsequent challenges at week 40 and 50 showed "only modest declines" in protection, the team reports, with 1 in 10 mice reacting to peanut challenge at week 40 and 3 in 10 at week 50.

Full protection was restored with re-treatment with FAHF-2; no mouse reacted to oral peanut challenge administered at week 66.

"This is a significant finding in terms of the duration of protection with a single course of treatment that can be taken orally, making it an effective and convenient treatment that can be administered at home," Srivastava told Reuters Health.

The research team is working to identify the bioactive compounds present in the formula.

How FAHF-2 works remains unclear. Preliminary work indicates that FAHF-2 may target multiple cell types known to be involved in allergic reactions.

FAHF-2 also appears to stimulate T cells to produce more interferon-gamma, a cytokine that is known to curb allergic responses. "There maybe other effects and more work needs to be done," Srivastava acknowledged.

"Another priority," said Srivastava, "is to optimize the treatment course for human clinical trials and we look forward to submitting an IND (Investigational New Drug application) to the FDA in the near future."

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 10:11am
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Wow, this would be really great!
I wonder what it is, exactly? "Herbal formula" - sounds like a mix of things.
I hope it turns out to be a totally harmless (meaning, no bad side effects), useable "cure" for PA!! Of course, if it is, somebody somewhere will make sure it costs a fortune... But then, it would be worth it, wouldn't it?

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 11:15am
tracy's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

People on this forum have referred to some Chinese herbal remedy in the past... it was awhile ago. I'm sure there's a smart someone out there who has been following this and can provide more information.
--Tracy

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 12:52pm
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Joined: 02/01/2006 - 09:00

This formula has been investigated by Dr. Sampson's group for a while. They are working on getting to know the formula better, sounds like, by extending the study time in mice. Also they are looking at property of each herb individually.
Here's the link about FAHF-2 in the past [url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum16/HTML/000124.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum16/HTML/000124.html[/url]
Keep our hope up [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Sirimon

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 3:00pm
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I saw some of the work on this at a conference I was at. It is a fair way in the future at this point. Very very promising since the mechanism doesn't seem to be quite like anything else on the horizon!
The reason that I say this is not "on the horizon" yet as a treatment is that "herbal" does not mean "safe" or "effective." Though the animal studies are extremely exciting, mice is all this has been shown in thus far. And they don't know if it does damage if treatment is long-term.
They also don't know what chemical components of the mixture are responsible for the activity that they are observing. The bioassay they are using is extremely complex (reducing reaction severity in a whole animal) and so isolating "active" components is a tough nut to crack. (No pun intended.) This is natural products isolation at its most frustrating and painfully slow. I hope that once they determine a more precise mechanism they will have a handle on a higher-throughput assay to use for screening.
I should know... since this is very similar to what I'm doing research-wise at the moment....except I have the advantage of using a cell-based assay to screen my plant extract. Hmmmm... took me a few years to develop that assay, though. Thus my presence at the conference. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]
Hey-- this is a first! I mentioned what I do for a living! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Kind of, anyway.

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 11:29pm
Sirimon's picture
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Joined: 02/01/2006 - 09:00

I have a question for you, Corvallis Mom. Just curiousity, do you think they really need to extract the active compounds from these herbs to develop the drug? I mean, can they use the whole herbs if the safety is documented? (that'll make it faster) From my understanding, chinese herbal formula usually contain many herbs, with the idea that they work together.
I understand that one would want to know what is working for what. But do you think trying to extract things out from herbs you may loose some compounds and the formula may not work as well??
I'm not a chemist. I would appreciate your input.
Thanks,
Sirimon

Posted on: Thu, 03/09/2006 - 4:06am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I understand that this is the perspective of both Asian medicine and "holistic" herbalism: that the entire extract/plant is needed for efficacy. This claim is usually made because of a preference for a non-pharmaceutical mode of intervention. But medically, it is usually [i]not[/i] the case. (Ayurvedic medicines are not what I am referring to, just to be clear.) Other purely herbal preparations may be substantially IMPROVED by isolation and full characterization. Let me give an example.
Valerian tea works just fine as a mild sedative agent, it does have side effects (liver damage, or even heart arrhythmias if it is used in very high concentrations), whereas Valium (the prescription drug) works more [i]predictably[/i] for the same purpose. It does not contain the additional natural plant components that may contribute to unwanted side effects. It also contains a known DOSE of the same chemical compound which is bioactive. Let me also emphasize that valerian is a relatively SAFE example... difficult to overdose on this one. But that is not always the case.
I recognize that many plant materials may work precisely because they contain a mixture of components. That isn't what I take umbrage with. But that isn't the same as saying "if I take it out of the plant it won't have the same [i]magical[/i] properties...." which is just plain inconsistent with scientific thought. The same mixture of active components, mixed in the correct proportions and at the correct dose, will if anything be MORE effective and have FEWER side effects than the raw natural products. Notably, many plant contain alkaloids and terpenoids which are quite toxic. The levels of these toxins (and for that matter the bioactive components) may vary substantially on a seasonal or geographical basis. It is pretty important to understand the mechanism of anything you are taking as a medicine. Some plant-derived medicines, while life-saving, have shockingly narrow dosing windows. Digoxin comes to mind immediately.
And not all companies marketing herbal preparations "standardize" them or for that matter even know what the "active" components of the medicines are. So you don't know if you are taking a quarter of a dose....or ten doses.
Herbal products are not "medicines" but they are certainly "drugs."
Experimentation on one's own is very ill-advised, in my personal professional opinion. (Remember my digoxin example? How about curare or strophanthin?)
I think that anything that you take as a medication should at the very least have a mechanism which is well understood. What I mean by that is this: I want to know what molecule(s) in the "drug" interacts with what enzyme/receptor/mediator/messenger in the body. How does that change a disease state? What does the body do as a result of that interaction? How long does the molecule last in the body? What else does the molecule do in the body?
Until those questions are answered pretty convincingly, any substance is highly experimental, to be diplomatic. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]
They [i]do[/i] work, a lot of them, but it is dangerous to use them if the dosage isn't known precisely. You wouldn't take a pill from a drugstore if they couldn't tell you how much to take, would you?
Just because they've been used successfully for hundreds or even thousands of years doesn't mean they are safe. Long term organ damage wouldn't have been a huge problem for people whose life expectancy was only 40 to begin with. Many herbal products were known to apothecary practice but regarded as drugs of last resort because of their inherent danger. We aren't "smarter" now, just equipped with better investigational tools. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
KWIM?
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited March 09, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/09/2006 - 4:19am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Isolation is probably most important for drug development, since it is the only way to really be clear about a molecule's effects, dose-response, and possible toxicity. Drug interactions and metabolism are much more easily studied starting with pure compounds, (which are most frequently isolated from a parent plant material, ironically!). Besides, to even standardize a dose of an herbal product, you have to know what the active ingredients are, and to do that, you have to have them pure.
About the loss of material or activity during isolation-- yes, this can present difficulty initially. But what this presents as is a loss of bioactivity after an isolation step. And so you modify that step until you don't lose activity. (Heat, light, oxygen, and chemical conditions can all cause degradation of bioactive molecules, but this is not unique to the isolation process.)
Does this mean that the developed therapeutic agent needs to be synthetically derived? No-- absolutely not.
But for those following along... all this just goes to say that this is GREAT... but a long way off. I'll keep my fingers crossed that nothing bad happens with it. (That one of the components which is efficacious doesn't turn out to be a potent carcinogen or immunomodulator that runs amok.)
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Posted on: Thu, 03/09/2006 - 4:39am
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Corvallis mom, even though I don't have the knowledge to have phrased it as you did, I know enough to understand everything you said, and I agree with you completely. I have long thought that herbal remedies could be very effective--if one knows exactly what dose they are taking and they know what it is supposed to do for what condition. The problem is that, the same amount of the same herb, coming from two different sources, are likely to have different concentrations, therefore different doses. Add to that how unregulated the herbal industry is--that the concentration doesn't need to be consistent, or even really revealed on the label, that it can be difficult to get reliable info on what the product does, and that many herbal products contain ingredients (whether as actual ingredients or as trace amounts) that are not on the label, and it becomes a bit like playing Russian roulette.

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 10:11am
anonymous's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Wow, this would be really great!
I wonder what it is, exactly? "Herbal formula" - sounds like a mix of things.
I hope it turns out to be a totally harmless (meaning, no bad side effects), useable "cure" for PA!! Of course, if it is, somebody somewhere will make sure it costs a fortune... But then, it would be worth it, wouldn't it?

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2006 - 11:15am
tracy's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

People on this forum have referred to some Chinese herbal remedy in the past... it was awhile ago. I'm sure there's a smart someone out there who has been following this and can provide more information.
--Tracy

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