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USU Professor To Study Ginseng As Possible Cancer Treatment

Evan Hall
Utah State University's Foster Agblevor and Wonjun Cho of SORAM hold up the signed agreement.

Representatives from Utah State University and SORAM Bio-medicine Research Institute of South Korea met Wednesday at a ceremony to finalize a formal partnership to study medical uses of ginseng. Dr. Foster Agblevor, a biological engineering professor at USU, said that the project will combine the best of Eastern and Western medical knowledge to utilize the plant to treat cancer.

“They [SORAM] want to be able to combine Western medicine with traditional Korean medicine. There are several types of compounds you can find in natural products,” Agblevor said. “Normally, the natural products are attacking the problem by themselves and Western medicine is also looking at it separately. The question is, if you combine both, what will be the effect?”

The project is expected to last two years. Agblevor and other researchers will attempt to obtain ginseng root extractions that will be used alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He said that even small doses of the ginseng root have medical potential.

“Ginseng plants take four to six years to produce enough roots for you use,” he said. “If we can manipulate the ginseng to produce hairy roots and express the same compounds, hairy root will take only a month or two to grow. In terms of its potency as a medical treatment, you only need a few milligrams of it.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the official document outlining the terms of the research agreement was signed.