Dr Yuhki Sato is a researcher based in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at Oita University, Japan. He and his team are working to develop novel biomarkers that can help treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. ‘We are dealing with side effects from anti-cancer drugs with existing drugs, but as for vomiting, there are no effective remedies, so patients are tolerating the present situation,’ Sato explains. As such, the team is looking into Kampo products, which tend to be extracts of herbal formulations. In particular, the researchers are exploring how Kampo products can affect the gastrointestinal tract. ‘A large number of ingredients will be included in one Kampo drug, each of which will have a particular kind of action. Sometimes the effect of an ingredient included is unknown. It is thought that Kampo drugs administered orally will show their efficacy through various changes occurring in the gastrointestinal tract,’ Sato states. In their 2014 study, ‘Changes in plasma gastrointestinal peptide levels after platinum-based chemotherapy in oesophageal cancer patients’, the researchers sought to assess plasma gastrointestinal peptide levels and their association with appetite during chemotherapy in patients with oesophageal cancer, as platinum-based chemotherapy is widely recognised to cause severe gastrointestinal disorders. The research involved measuring the plasma gastrointestinal peptide levels and platinum concentrations in five patients with oesophageal cancer who underwent platinum-based chemotherapy before and at day three, eight and 28 after chemotherapy, while appetite profile was evaluated by visual analogy scale (VAS). The researchers found that platinum-based chemotherapy significantly reduced plasma ghrelin and feeding activity. This led them to surmise that gastrointestinal peptide levels in plasma might be good indicators of the expression of the gastrointestinal disorders by platinum-based chemotherapy in oesophageal cancer patients.