About this Research Topic
Gastrointestinal cancers pose significant public health burden worldwide. Most of the research and treatment strategies for patients with gastrointestinal cancers have focused on cell-autonomous mechanisms in the epithelial compartment. The interaction between epithelial cells, mesenchymal cells and immune cells promotes the tumor formation and progression.
Over the past decade, the microenvironment of gastrointestinal cancers has gained increasing attention because it is linked to tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. The tumor microenvironment has been recognized as one of the major hallmarks of epithelial cancers. There is an increasing interest in reagents that alter the microenvironment, based on reported interactions among digestive track epithelial, stromal, and immune cells during gastrointestinal carcinogenesis.
Medicinal plants have a long history of being used for disease prevention and treatment, which showed beneficial effects in decreasing the recurrence or prolonging the survival time of patients with gastrointestinal cancers. A number of the medicinal plants have regulatory effects on tumor microenvironment, e.g., Curcumin, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, Resveratrol, Silibinin and water extract of ginseng showed the ability to regulate tumor-associated fibroblasts, tumor-associated endothelial cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and tumor-associated macrophages in different cancers. Increasing evidence supports the notion that the combination of medicinal plants with conventional anticancer therapies are likely to exhibit a clinical benefit. Collectively, it shows that there is huge potential, but lots of basic and clinical research are warranted to delineate the mechanisms of action in order to end up in evidence-based medicine. This needs more and intensified science for identifying the active medicinal plants, pinpointing active compounds, and exploring potential synergistic effects when dealing with complex mixtures. In addition, it is pivotal to initiate pre-clinical, toxicological, and clinical trials.
In this Research Topic, authors are invited to submit Review or Original Research articles adapting a critical approach designed to robustly test the clinical effects (or otherwise), mechanisms and safety of adequately-characterized medicinal plants and their active components for gastrointestinal cancers – in particular, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocarcinoma, etc.
The subtopics to be covered include, but are not limited to:
1. Reviews of high-quality literature testing effects of medicinal plants for gastrointestinal cancers, especially tumor microenvironment in gastrointestinal cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and hepatocarcinoma.
2. The role of medicinal plants and/or their active components for microenvironment in gastrointestinal cancers (in vitro and in vivo studies).
3. Mechanism or target prediction of medicinal plants for gastrointestinal cancers based on network pharmacology.
4. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials or primary clinical data to evaluate the efficacy, or otherwise, of medicinal plants for gastrointestinal cancers.
One can find more information about the Article Types guidelines in the Ethnopharmacology section here).
All the manuscripts submitted to this project will be peer-reviewed and need to fully comply with the Four Pillars of Best Practice in Ethnopharmacology (you can freely download the full version here).
In particular, for network pharmacology studies, potential authors will have to comply with the following guidelines:
• In general, it is expected that network pharmacological studies will be conducted in combination with experimental work or are based on a sound body of experimental work.
• Network pharmacology studies must critically assess the evidence to evaluate the potential pharmacological effects of a preparation/herbal (medical) product and the limitations of the evidence.
• The network must be represented in such a way that the underlying mechanism can be understood including a suitable visualization of the network and the individual data points.
• The identification of the compounds must be sound. This information may be derived preferably from benchwork or else from the existing literature. It is essential that the quantities of the compounds in the preparation or plant are stated and are high enough to be of pharmacological relevance.
• The bioavailability of the compounds must be assessed.
• Ubiquitous or very widely known compounds are highly unlikely to be “active” especially in in vitro assays. Therefore, in these cases, evidence for therapeutic or preventive benefits and mechanisms of action is essential.
• The major target found by transcriptomics or proteomics needs to be validated by other experimental techniques.
Keywords: medicinal plants, Gastrointestinal Cancer, digestive cancer, tumor microenvironment, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, Randomized Controlled Trial
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.