Feverfew…NOT for cancer

…but a chemically-altered analog derived from feverfew appears to have anticancer activity against leukemia stem cells. Researchers at the University of Rochester reported this week in the journal, Blood, that dimethylaminoparthenolide (DMAPT) has selective action against acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
It’ll be a couple days before I can get to reading the original paper. However, do not let anyone tell you that feverfew can treat cancer. From the press release, it appears that the major compound in feverfew, called parthenolide, was chemically modified to create DMAPT, thereby converting parthenolide into a form that gets absorbed into the bloodstream and has a reasonable half-life once it’s there.


To be clear, DMAPT is not present in feverfew. It is a feverfew component modified in the laboratory in a manner that cannot be accomplished by the body.
I say this emphatically because I’ve already seen sites popping up on the Web advertising their feverfew products as “high in parthenolide” and then having a description of the Rochester paper (no, I’m not giving links to this absurdity).
More to follow but, please, be vigilant and don’t be misled.

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10 thoughts on “Feverfew…NOT for cancer

  1. Calm down.
    Your point is valid that anybody selling parthenolide by referencing the Rochester DMAP report is bogus.
    There are several studies showing unmodifiied parthenolide to have anti-cancer properties. Those reports are very probably the impetus for Rochester’s work with parthenolide to make a better, and of course, $patented product.
    It will take many years and 100s of $Ms before the FDA approves DMAPT for cancer.
    Parthenolide is available now and can be consumed transdermally.

  2. Len–
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/t16j75nt88184251/
    The abstract referenced above refers to a phase one trial with standardized oral doses of parthenolide. It concludes “Feverfew, with up to 4 mg of parthenolide, given daily as an oral tablet is well tolerated without dose-limiting toxicity, but does not provide detectable plasma concentrations. Purification of parthenolide for administration of higher doses will be needed.”
    Can you provide references, from human trials, that the transdermal method you discuss overcomes this????? Or is this typical $supplement co marketing based on cherry picking of in vivo and in vitro studies. I sincerely doubt that you can.
    Zoey

  3. “does not provide detectable plasma concentrations.”
    … the same problem with chemo. It can’t get past, in reasonable doses that are effectively therapeutic, the GI tract and the liver to the serum.
    Skin and hair follicles (and sub-lingual skin especially) are well-known, well-studied valid entry points. eg, (FDA-approved) skin patches and topical cream for injecting hormones, nicotine, etc. Many vaccines can’t get past the GI/liver, so are injected.
    AFAIK, there aren’t any human trials of transdermal parthenolide. Doesn’t sound like an expensive trial for a non-toxic phyto-chemical, to see if serum levels are therapeutically sufficient. I can’t see Big Pharma paying for trials for a non-patentable product. Who else will? A Republican FDA or HHS?
    DMAPT sounds great, but don’t hold your breath. I’ve made the choice not to wait years.

  4. Wow, I think you’re statement: “the same problem with chemo,” is off base– how do you think folks like say, Lance Armstrong, got rid of their cancer? I’m in remission 8 years after chemo and rads– do you think the chemo I had was not “effectively therapeutic???”
    IMHO the company manufacturing the patches should run the trials necessary to determine efficacy in humans before making claims that their product provides benefit.
    I’m sure you would say that it was unethical for “Big Pharma” to make claims of efficacy without trials. Isn’t what’s good for the goose, good for the gander????? You say, it doesn’t sound like it would be an expensive trial, so….why doesn’t the company profiting from the patches do the trial before marketing and profiting off vulnerable patients ??????

  5. “chemo I had was not “effectively therapeutic???”
    I didn’t say chemo was ineffective (but you better ask the 100s of 1000s who have died in spite of (or because of) chemo). I said taking (many) chemos can’ be done orally, just like curcurmin and parthenolide aren’t most effective orally.

  6. Again, the efficacy of the transdermal approach should be tested before preying on patients and making claims of its usefulness. Do you think it is ethical to market a product before there is proof of efficacy in humans, only citing pre clinical data??? (most things that seem to work against cancer in test tubes and/or mice do not end up working in humans when put to the test).
    If it is ethical, would it also be ethical for “Big Pharma” to make claims without testing products in humans before selling them to patients?
    Do you think it is appropriate that supplement co’s market oral curcumin making claims based on in vivo and in vitro studies given its poor bioavailability???? Is it appropriate for companies to use in vivo and in vitro studies to make claims about any type of parthenolide (oral or otherwise) without first testing efficacy? This type of marketing seems rampant in the supplement industry.
    Again, in your mind, if its ok for supplement cos to do this type of marketing, would this type of marketing, using pre-clinical data only, be ok for “big pharma.”

  7. Zoey,
    I’ll second Joe’s remark. Nicely done.
    My recollection (from a Pharma report) is that among the compounds having activity in cell culture, that 1 in 5,000 prove effective and win marketing approval.
    As you point out bioavailibility is a stumbling block, but also unacceptable toxicities of the compound when give at clinically relevent doses (whether from natural sources or other).
    Another reason for the poor odds, it seems, is that cancer cells are changed by removal from the body … will sometimes die spontaneously when no longer supported by the host microenvironment.

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