The Center of Research in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Penn's Medical Center received an $8 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine--a component of the National Institutes of Health--for the study of complementary and alternative medicine therapies for cancer.
The five-year grant is one of only two designated in the country at this time. The Johns Hopkins Center for Cancer Complementary Medicine is the second award recipient. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an emerging specialty of medicine that uses oxygen at greater-than-atmospheric pressures to treat a variety of disorders. Penn's chamber system, according to Dr. Stephen R. Thom, director of the specialized Center, has grown from use as a research center only to a specialty-care patient area for the treatment of a variety of diseases, including cancer.
The Center was begun in 1968 to study the physiological changes that occurred when humans penetrated into unusual environments--specifically, deep-sea divers who became victims of what is commonly known as "the bends." "As a result of these studies," said Dr. Thom, "clinical treatments began with these patients, and, in the 1980s, progressed to including those who suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. As time goes on, many new uses are being developed for this fascinating form of treatment."
Four projects at Penn's Center for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy will examine methods of action, safety, and clinical efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of head and neck tumors. The first project will evaluate treatment outcomes for patients who have undergone laryngectomy (surgical removal of the voice box). The second will examine the effects of hyperbaric oxygen on the growth of blood vessels and tumors. The third project will describe the effects of hyperbaric oxygen on cell adhesion and on the growth of metastatic tumor cells in the lung. Project four will test the effects of elevated oxygen pressures on cellular levels of nitric oxide.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) supports specialized research centers through research grants that fund a full range of research and development projects--from basic to clinical and intervention studies. NCCAM's other specialized research centers cover complementary and alternative medicine approaches for numerous public health needs such as: drug addictions, aging and women's health, arthritis, craniofacial disorders, cardiovascular disease, pediatrics, and neurological disorders.
These centers serve as the focal point for initiating and maintaining state-of-the-art multidisci-plinary research in complementary and alternative medicine, developing core research resources, training new investigators, and expanding the research base through collaborative research and outreach to scientists and clinicians.
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 9, October 24, 2000