Fighting Cancer With Aspirin?

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Cancer fighting drug

When looking for new weapons in the war on cancer, scientists should turn to their medicine cabinets for an age-old remedy--aspirin. According to scientists at the University of Newcastle (UK), aspirin has cancer-fighting effects that extend beyond already understood Cox inhibitors. This finding, which appears in the October 2006 issue of The FASEB Journal, provides important clues to how aspirin works in cancer and in inflammation: aspirin reduces the formation of blood vessels that fuel developing tumors. Without new blood vessels (formed through a process called angiogenesis) tumors cannot grow. With this information, researchers can pursue new lines of investigation that could ultimately yield an entirely new type of cancer-fighting drug.

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In the study, the researchers show that aspirin acts on the signaling molecule NFkappaB, which is known to trigger the formation of new blood vessels, an important part of tumor development. Additionally, Newcastle researchers found a dose-dependent relationship between blood vessel formation and the amount of aspirin used in the study. This new finding confirms and extends earlier evidence suggesting that NFkappaB is a target of aspirin action in inflammation; now researchers can work out exactly how signals interrupted by aspirin can control not only inflammation, but the biology of tumor growth as well.

"Aspirin has always been touted as a 'wonder drug,'" said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "and this study shows that we are still learning about the many actions of this amazing drug." www.fasebj.org

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