Thursday, 4 August 2016

Artemisinin Revisited

Overview
I'd like to revisit the use of artemisinin and other natural compounds to add to the standard-of-care medicines and radiotherapy currently used in the fight against brain tumors.  So far, we've had limited but hopeful results.  Has anyone else had success with artemisinin or its derivatives? 

Our story
My husband, aged 61, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma-grade IV in April 2016.  The discovery of a mass in his left parietal lobe, accompanied by so much swelling was quite a shock, since he was such a productive person up to that point.  He rode his bike to work daily, went on lecture tours (he's a medical researcher, ironically), wrote endless grant proposals, played classical guitar, etc.  The only thing we could point to as being an issue was mild aphasia for about two years, which we had blamed on stress and insomnia.

He had 92% of the tumor removed at the end of April.  Three weeks later, the tumor had started to regrow to the point where they wanted to begin Temozolomide + radiation immediately.  He completed a 6-week regimen of both, taken concurrently, and with Chinese herbals (artemisinin, curcumin, and leukozepin) added during the last week.  Three weeks later, his scan showed a beaten-up, "leaky" tumor, that was about 50% larger - a combination of true tumor growth and inflammation.  Also noted on his path report:  "Exophytic growth towards splenium of corpus callosum and occipital lobe has progressed."

For those of you who are knowledgeable about genetic markers, he has the MDM4, PTEN, and TP53 mutations.  His IDH1 and IDH2 are wild type.  His MGMT promoter gene is 97% unmethylated, unfortunately.

I brought this abstract (link attached) to the last consult and gave it to his oncologist:  Artesunate enhances the antiproliferative effect of temozolomide on U87MG and A172 glioblastoma cell lines.  His oncologist was happy enough with this scan result that he let Husband continue on the artemisinin and temozolomide for Round 2, which will be higher doses of both but for only 5 days.  After that, another scan will be taken after letting the inflammation clear out, on August 29th.  We'll get the results on August 31st.

If you have any experience/information that you could share on combining artemisinin, artesunate, etc with traditional GBM meds, including immunotherapy, I would be so grateful to hear from you! - ABM

8 comments:

  1. Thanks AB, this reminds me of a study I found a week or so ago, but I forgot to post. It was a mouse study testing physical exercise or dihydroartemisinin as therapies for GBM. Dihydroartemisinin is the main metabolite of the artemisinin compounds (found in the blood after ingesting artemisinin or artesunate).

    The study found that physical exercise alone did not increase mouse survival, but combining physical exercise with temozolomide did significantly improve survival rather dramatically. Dihydroartemisinin plus temozolomide also improved survival, though not quite as dramatically. Surprisingly, combining temozolomide with dihydroartemisinin AND physical exercise was no better than temozolomide alone. See figure 1b, the study can be found at this link:

    http://www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path[]=10723&pubmed-linkout=1

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  2. Very interesting, thanks! I sat down with Husband and went over the charts, etc., in the report. From there we moved to abstract about resveratrol + temozolomide but have some reservations about the origin of the report. It was interesting enough, though, to warrant further research. My cardiologist recommended we look into it as well.

    For now, we are letting Dr. Chaohui ("Wendy") Zhang in Houston lead the way on the naturopathic side of Husband's regimen. She has not recommended anything other than curcumin, artemisinin, and Leukozepin but is open to anything I bring her and is willing to look into it so she can offer an opinion.

    And, of course, the oncologist has the final say on all meds, both natural and allopathic. So far, he has mostly agreed with how we want to proceed, making adjustments here and there to avoid interference. We feel so blessed to have found such an open-minded doctor.

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    1. Forgot to say that Husband is not exercising as much as before because of fatigue but he still tries to walk the dog and do some arm calisthenics to keep his muscles active.

      Some of the results in the study were surprising, huh? I have often wondered about the effects of exercise in raising blood pressure, at least while the exercise is occurring...i.e. might it help the temo to cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently? Were that true, though, one would have expected significantly better results with the temo + artemisinin. Not sure how to interpret that.

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  3. I thought I would post the results of Husband taking the artemisinin and other botanicals thus far. He finished his second round of 5/23 temozolomide (5 days of 300mg temo followed by 23 days of no temo). During the entire time, he also took 300mg artemisinin, Leucozepin twice per day, curcumin three times per day mixed into nut butters and ghee, 300mg of pycnogenol, 1500mg of shark liver oil, a combo antioxidant pill, and 12-15mg of melatonin at night.

    At the end of this second round of chemo (+ naturals), all of his blood results were normal, his leukocyte count was strong, and his platelet count was good. His color was good, energy good, liver and kidney markers good, and he was gaining weight. He felt strong enough to work one 1/2 day per week at the lab and tackled admin work 1 hour/day from home.

    A scan was taken on 8/29/16. 4/5 of the tumor showed no growth or even a slight reduction based on eyeballing it (path report will follow). 1/5 of the tumor, however, showed new growth and the spectroscopy done at the same time indicated it was true tumor growth, not edema. We were thrilled with the 4/5 result, not so much with the 1/5 result especially since it was heading from his left parietal lobe toward the midline of the brain.

    Because my husband is doing so well from a clinical point-of-view, the NO was willing to let us continue adding the carpet-bombing naturopathic meds to the chemo and even gave the green light to adding more: Antabuse, boswellia, maitake, coriolus, and selenium. He especially liked the coriolus, which he took himself for his own cancer. We will be registering all of these meds with the Dept. of Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson so they can keep track of the data. There are so many people coming to Anderson who take adjunct meds that they had to hire another doctor, whom Husband will be seeing. It turns out I taught this new doc's kids before I retired! Talk about a small world.

    On a separate note, we have also just made contact with Myriam's Hope for advice and a move may be in our near future.

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  4. I wonder if this is a change of position for MD Anderson. We left MD Anderson because his NO, one with an excellent reputation, was against repurposed meds, against supplements and against optune. One of their integrative medicine docs called me to tell me supplements like curcumin and artemisinin and others do not work.

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  5. Oh man, this is not good. We are going to be meeting with the Integrative Med doctor this week. Our NO wanted us to list everything we are taking with her to get them on record. So if they are against taking supplements, why on earth have an Integrative Medicine department? What are they integrating, just the acupuncture and yoga they offer?? Sigh...I'm getting pretty disappointed in MDACC. I will PM you, Michael W, if I can figure out how.

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  6. Dear AB, Thank you for sharing your story. My husband has been diagnosed with GBM :unmethylated: IDH1 immunonegative: IDH wild-type. I am encouraged by your story and hope.


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  7. Hi everyone,

    My father has also a Glioblastoma, and i m trying everything to help him. He is also now taking Artemisinin, any update please? God bless you all, hold on tight...

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