A preliminary study from the University of Minnesota, published in the journal Veterinary Dermatology, gives encouraging results with Aldara, a new sarcoid treatment. The owners of 15 horses with a total of 19 sarcoids applied the drug imiquimod to the tumors three times a day for 32 weeks, or until the the tumors disappeared. Of the horses that completed the study, 80% had a greater than 75% reduction in tumor size, and 60% were totally gone.
Imiquimod (brand name Aldara) was approved by the FDA in June 2004 for the topical treatment of genital warts, some skin cancers and noncancerous skin conditions. It is an immune-modulating drug, improving the immune system’s response to abnormal cells and viruses.
Chamomile flowers, used as a tea or as an essential oil incorporated into poultices, have a long history of use, including as a gentle anti-inflammatory. A study in the Journal of Natural Products reports finding a chemical that is structurally similar to the ”profen” drugs (e.g. ketoprofen, ibuprofen).
The researchers who found the low levels of the natural profen in chamomile also found that matricin is degraded to chamazulene by stomach acid. When matricin was fed to human volunteers, the level of chamazulene in their blood rose. Chamazulene was found to have strictly anti-Cox-2 anti-inflammatory activity, with no effect on the Cox-1 enzyme system. This means it would be largely free of the intestinal and kidney side effects of synthetic NSAIDs.
In the usual course of events, researchers develop synthetic drugs using the chemical framework of a medically active natural substance as a starting point (naturally occurring substances can’t be patented). In this case, the reverse happened. The active metabolite of an ancient anti-inflammatory herb was identified because of its similarity to a drug.