Cancer Biomarkers for Integrative Oncology

  • Aniruddha GangulyEmail author
  • David Frank
  • Nagi Kumar
  • Yung-Chi Cheng
  • Edward Chu
Integrative Care (C Lammersfeld, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Integrative Care


Purpose of Review

There has been an increasing interest in using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches to treat cancer. It is therefore relevant and timely to determine if CAM biomarkers can be identified and developed to guide cancer diagnosis and treatment. Herein, we review the status of cancer biomarkers in CAM research and treatment to stimulate further research in this area.

Recent Findings

Studies on promising anti-cancer natural products, such as PHY906, honokiol, bryostatin-1, and sulforaphane have demonstrated the existence of potential cancer biomarker(s). Additional studies are required to further develop and ultimately validate these biomarkers that can predict clinical activity of the anti-cancer natural products used alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents.


A systematic approach is needed to identify and develop CAM treatment associated biomarkers and to define their role in facilitating clinical decision-making. The expectation is to use these biomarkers in determining potential options for CAM treatment, examining treatment effects and toxicity and/or clinical efficacy in patients with cancer.


Biomarker Cancer complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) Integrative oncology Cancer diagnostics Anti-cancer natural product Anti-cancer herbal medicine 



The authors thank the past and present members of Dr. Y-C. Cheng’s laboratory group who were involved in the pre-clinical and translational studies on PHY906 and to all the clinical investigators, patients, and their families involved in the PHY906 clinical trials. The authors also thank Dr. Lyndsay Harris for the support and valuable comments, and to Dr. Laura K. Fogli for formatting this manuscript.

Funding Information

This research on PHY906 was supported in part by grants from the National Cancer Institute (grant nos. P01CA154295-01 and P30CA147904), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and a grant from the National Foundation for Cancer. Dr. David Frank was supported by NIH grant R01-CA160979.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Aniruddha Ganguly declares that he has no conflict of interest.

David Frank has received research funding from Gilead and Cstem; has received compensation from Kymera for service as a consultant; has a patent issued, licensed, and receives royalties for STAT Modulators; and has a patent pending for targeting the transcription factor NF-kB with harmine.

Nagi Kumar declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Yung-Chi Cheng is a fellow of the National Foundation for Cancer that partially supported PHY906 studies. He is a co-founder of Yiviva with the Yale University to further develop PHY906 (now known as Yiviva 906) for the treatment of various human cancers and other GI disorders.

Edward Chu is a member of the scientific advisory board of Yiviva.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aniruddha Ganguly
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Frank
    • 2
  • Nagi Kumar
    • 3
  • Yung-Chi Cheng
    • 4
  • Edward Chu
    • 5
  1. 1.Cancer Diagnosis Program, Division of Cancer Treatment and DiagnosisNational Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of HealthRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pharmacology, Developmental Therapeutics Program, Yale Cancer CenterYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  5. 5.Department of Medicine, Cancer Therapeutics Program, UPMC Hillman Cancer CenterUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

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