Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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Plant-Based Drug May Benefit Patients With Oral Cancers

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Monday, March 9, 2020

In a double-blind, phase I clinical trial published in the journal Cancer, Saroj K. Basak, PhD, of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and colleagues found that APG-157, a plant-based drug, may prove to be an effective treatment of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Curcumin, one of the plant-based polyphenols found in APG-157, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Concentrations of curcumin were found in the blood and tissues of patients with head and neck cancer within 3 hours of administration, reducing the concentration of cytokines and Bacteroides species in saliva samples.

“The results indicate that a long-term evaluation of immune checkpoint blockade with and without APG-157 could provide a clear understanding of the usefulness of APG-157 as either an adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapeutic agent for patients with advanced or recurrent head and neck cancer,” the research team concluded. 

The research group randomly assigned 12 patients with oral and oropharyngeal cancers to receive APG-157 and 13 patients to receive a placebo (control group). Electrocardiograms and blood tests were used to measure toxicities.

Salivary cytokine concentrations, which cause inflammation, were lower among patients with oral cancer who received APG-157 than in patients who received a placebo. Similarly, patients in the treatment group had a lower relative abundance of Bacteroides species, a Gram-negative bacterium that is correlated with oral cancer, than did patients who received the placebo. Furthermore, patients treated with APG-157 showed higher expression of genes associated with attracting T cells to the tumor microenvironment. None of the study participants reportedly experienced any adverse events. 

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit acsjournals.com.

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