Federal health officials have created an expert panel charged with aiding research into ‘alternative’ cancer therapies.

The formation of the Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAPCAM) “represents a vital step toward rigorously evaluating the efficacy and safety of various (non-traditional) cancer therapies,” said Dr. William Harlan, acting director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

The formation of the new 15-member panel, a joint effort of NCCAM and the National Cancer Institute, is designed to help encourage and streamline research into alternative cancer therapies. Panelists are drawn from various disciplines, and include Dr. Douglas Weed of the National Cancer Institute;

June Brazil, an expert in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York; and Doctor, director of the FDA’s Center for Biology Evaluation and Research. The panel is chaired by Dr. Ernest Wynder, a lung cancer expert and president of the New York-based American Health Foundation.

According to a NCCAM statement, panelists will advise the NCCAM director on the merits of “present and future” clinical trials involving alternative cancer therapies, “determine potential research opportunities,” and develop efficient methods of communicating the results of this research to interested parties.

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