NSAIDs could halt cancer

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 1, 2007

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Researchers have discovered that a single gene, mda-7/IL-24, may serve as the molecular mechanism that enables nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to halt the growth of cancer. Their study appears in the Dec. 15, 2006, Cancer Research.

The new finding may provide the answer to the long-puzzling question: How does this popular class of painkillers protect people from developing this deadly disease? "Although observational studies had previously demonstrated that NSAIDs might be effective in the prevention and treatment of several common cancers, it wasn't at all clear how this was happening," said senior author Towia Libermann, PhD, director of the Genomics Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

After treating a range of cancer cells in culture with a set of NSAIDs, the researchers found that this single gene, when upregulated or made more reactive, kills cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. Viral delivery of the gene is being evaluated in several clinical trials as a therapeutic agent against various cancers, and enhanced levels of the gene have also been correlated with prolonged survival in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. The gene may also become a new biomarker for monitoring patients' responses to certain therapies.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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