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Arthritis drug celecoxib shows promise for fighting breast cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
breast cancer

Dutch researchers have found the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib could help in the fight against breast cancer.

The finding was announced at the IMPAKT Breast Cancer Conference held in Brussels. According to scientists from the European Society for Medical Oncology, the anti-inflammatory drug that is used to control arthritis and other painful conditions shows signs of being able to stop breast cancer cells from proliferating.

The discovery came about when the researchers looked at the way celecoxib changes gene expression in breast cancer tumors.

Celecoxib is a COX 2 inhibitor that stops the release of fatty acids called prostaglandins in the body, which have been shown to promote tumor growth.

Lead researcher Juergen Veeck, from Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands suggests the anti-inflammatory drug, which is used to treat other diseases already, could be added to breast cancer treatment.

Celecoxib changes gene expression that could shrink breast cancer tumors

The researchers tested the effect of the anti-inflammatory drug on a small group of women scheduled for surgery. Some of the women received 400 mg celexicob twice daily for two to three week. The control group was given placebo or no treatment.

After treatment, the scientists analyzed 1,109 genes, finding the drug promoted breast cancer cell death and boosted immune response at a molecular level.

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“Even short-term treatment with celexicob sets up transcriptional programs supporting anti-tumor activity in primary breast cancer tissues,” the researchers explained.

The treatment period was short, but the scientists speculate the arthritis; anti-inflammatory drug, given for a longer period, should shrink breast tumors.

The anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib shows promise as an additional treatment for breast cancer. Dutch researchers found the medication, given short-term to women with invasive breast cancer, changed expression of genes to help fight against the disease.

The researchers also note the association between aggressive forms of HER2 positive breast cancers and COX2 expression that could be curbed with celecoxib. They suggest the drug could be used in combination with trastuzumab or aromatase inhibitors.

Side effects include gastrointestinal upset and irritation that could make the drug intolerable for some patients.

Adding the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib may be an additional treatment for breast cancer that Dr. Veeck says is "generating some excitement". The commonly used arthritis drug is relatively safe and widely used for other painful conditions. Celecoxib was shown affect breast cancer aptosis, modulate immune response and change gene expression within the cell matrix.

ESMO:" IMPAKT News: A preoperative celecoxib treatment reveals antitumor response at molecular level in primary breast cancer tissues"

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