An alternative theory on how aspirin may thwart cancer

Studies abound that point to a role for plain old aspirin in keeping deadly cancers at bay. While aspirin is not yet part of mainstream treatment for any cancer, it is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for certain adults to help prevent colorectal cancer. But researchers have puzzled over how exactly the "wonder drug" works to ward off cancer. Most think it has to do with the drug's inflammation-lowering effects.

Now Veterans Affairs (VA) scientists and colleagues in Texas have a new theory, tested successfully in mice and cell cultures. It has to do with aspirin's effects on platelets - blood cells that form clots to stop bleeding. The findings appear in the February 2017 issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

Along with clotting, platelets also play a role in forming new blood vessels. That action is normally beneficial, such as when a new clot forms after a wound, and new vessels are needed to redirect blood flow. But the same action can help tumors grow. It's this process that aspirin can interrupt, say the researchers. Their lab tests showed how aspirin blocked the interaction between platelets and cancer cells by shutting down the enzyme COX-1, thereby curbing the number of circulating platelets and their level of activity.

Some of the experiments used regular aspirin from a local drug store. In another phase, the researchers used a special preparation of aspirin combined with phosphatidylcholine, a type of lipid, or fat molecule. The molecule is a main ingredient in soy lecithin. The product, known as Aspirin-PC/PL2200, now in development by Houston-based PLx Pharma, Inc., is designed to ease the gastrointestinal risk associated with standard aspirin.

The enhanced aspirin complex was even stronger against cancer than the regular aspirin. Summarizing their findings, the researchers wrote: "These results suggest that aspirin's chemopreventive effects may be due, in part, to the drug blocking the proneoplastic [supporting new, abnormal growth, as in cancer] action of platelets and [they support] the potential use of Aspirin-PC/PL2200 as an effective and safer chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer and possibly other cancers."

Dr. Lenard Lichtenberger, who led the research, has a financial stake in PLx Pharma, the company developing the new lipid-based aspirin under the brand name Aspertec. None of the other authors reported potential conflicts of interest. Lichtenberger is a professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center.

The VA leader in the group was Dr. Vinod Vijayan, a research health scientist at the DeBakey VAMC and an expert in platelet biology. He is with the site's Center for Translational Research on Inflammatory Diseases. Vijayan is also an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

The group says they plan to test the lipid-aspirin complex for safety and efficacy in people at high risk for colorectal cancer in a collaboration with researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Meanwhile, they say their results so far "support the use of low-dose aspirin for chemoprevention." They add that Aspirin-PC/PL2200 has "similar chemopreventive actions to low-dose aspirin and may be more effective."

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Lichtenberger LM, Fang D, Bick RJ, Poindexter BJ, Phan T, Bergeron AL, Pradhan S, Dial EJ, Vijayan KV.
Unlocking Aspirin's Chemopreventive Activity: Role of Irreversibly Inhibiting Platelet Cyclooxygenase-1.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Feb;10(2):142-152. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-16-0241.

Most Popular Now

FDA approves Vosevi for Hepatitis C

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Vosevi to treat adults with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes 1-6 without cirrhosis (liver disease) or with mil...

Green tea ingredient may ameliorate memory impairm…

A study published online in The FASEB Journal, involving mice, suggests that EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), the most abundant catechin and biologically active compone...

New way found to boost immunity in fight cancer an…

An international research team led by Université de Montréal medical professor Christopher Rudd, director of research in immunology and cell therapy at Maisonneuve-Rosemo...

Amgen and Array BioPharma announce preclinical lic…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Array BioPharma (NASDAQ:ARRY) today announced a collaboration agreement for the discovery and development of novel drugs for autoimmune disorders...

Merck and Pfizer collaborate with Corning

Merck (NYSE: MRK), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) today announced collaborations that have enabled the modernization of pharmaceutical packaging ...

Americans say discussions about clinical trials sh…

An overwhelming majority of Americans (86%) agree that health care professionals should discuss clinical trials with patients diagnosed with a disease as part of their st...

One minute of running per day associated with bett…

A single minute of exercise each day is linked to better bone health in women, new research shows. Scientists from the University of Exeter and the University of Leiceste...

AstraZeneca and Merck establish strategic oncology…

AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., Inc., (Merck; known as MSD outside of the US and Canada) today announced that they have entered a global strategic oncology collaboration to ...

27 Phase III and 8 Phase II Alzheimer's drugs on t…

Twenty-seven Alzheimer's drugs in Phase III clinical trials and eight drugs in Phase II clinical trials may launch in the next five years, according to a revised Alzheime...

New drug may treat and limit progression of Parkin…

Researchers at Binghamton University have developed a new drug that may limit the progression of Parkinson's disease while providing better symptom relief to potentially ...

Johnson & Johnson announces encouraging first-…

Johnson & Johnson has announced encouraging first-in-human clinical data for an investigational HIV-1 vaccine regimen in development at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Compani...

How physical exercise prevents dementia

Numerous studies have shown that physical exercise seems beneficial in the prevention of cognitive impairment and dementia in old age. Now researchers at Goethe Universit...

Pharmaceutical Companies

[ A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z ]