A new aspirin compound, the latest to join the armoury of drugs against cancer, has shown great promise in fighting and shrinking 11 different types of human cancer cells, without harming normal cells.
The new designer drug curbed the growth of cancer cells including that of colon, pancreatic, lung, prostate, breast, and leukemia, in the lab, according to a team from the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education of The City College of New York. ”The key components of this new compound are that it is very, very potent and yet it has minimal toxicity to the cells,” said Khosrow Kashfi, associate professor at City College and principal study investigator, the journal Medicinal Chemistry Letters reports.
Prolonged use of aspirin is known to pose its own dangers: side-effects ranging from bleeding ulcers to kidney failure. To resolve this, researchers created a hybrid of two earlier formulations, which they have called “NOSH-aspirin.” They used the aspirin as a scaffold to support two molecules that have been shown to increase the drug’s safety and potency.
One arm of the hybrid aspirin releases nitric oxide (NO), which helps protect the stomach lining. The other releases hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which the researchers have previously shown enhances aspirin’s cancer-fighting ability, according to a City College statement. The researchers suspected that the hybrid would be more effective than either of the two components alone to boost aspirin’s safety and power against cancer.
The aspirin compound also shrank human colon cancer tumours by 85 percent in live animals, again without adverse effects, according to another study by the City College researchers and colleague Kenneth Olson of Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend. ”If what we have seen in animals can be translated to humans,” said Kashfi, “it could be used in conjunction with other drugs to shrink tumors before chemotherapy or surgery.”
Long the go-to drug for minor aches and pains, aspirin and other so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen are known primarily for their ability to calm inflammation. Studies in the 1980s resolved a decades-old debate on the utility of a daily dose of aspirin to cut the risk of heart attack and stroke.
More recent studies tracking regular use of the drug and other NSAIDs demonstrated their remarkable ability to inhibit the growth of cancer. ”There’s a lot of data on aspirin showing that when taken on a regular basis, on average it reduces the risk of development of colon cancer by about 50 percent compared to nonusers,” noted Kashfi. These findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago, from March 31 to April 4.