Could a Common Painkiller Slow Cancer Growth?

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Living with pain is difficult enough. But dealing with pain and cancer – or, worse, pain caused by cancer – is a nightmare no one should have to endure. Luckily, there is new hope on the horizon for people dealing with both ailments.

Recent research has unveiled some uplifting findings. According to a recent study conducted at The Scripps Research Institute, the commonly prescribed drug Celebrex might actually stunt cancer growth. Celebrex is a drug that doctors often prescribe to people living with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the pain-relieving drug might have other benefits, as well. Here’s what the researchers found.

The Study

Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute recently published an article in the Cancer Research journal explaining their recent study of the effects of Celebrex on cancer cell growth. The study was conducted using animal subjects and dealt with a type of cancerous tumor called neurofibromatosis type II (NF2).

The test subjects received daily doses of Celebrex, a drug produced by Pfizer. The researchers tracked the tumor growth by imaging the tumors over time and measuring the changes in the tumors.

The Findings

The researchers were specifically looking for the effects of Celebrex on the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which causes inflammation and, subsequently, pain. COX-2 has also been linked to cancer cell growth. Celebrex, which inhibits inflammation, was found to also inhibit the COX-2 enzyme.

In addition to finding that Celebrex inhibited COX-2, which lead to a decrease in tumor cell growth, researchers also leanred more about how this occurs. By examining a chain of signals called the Hippo-YAP pathway, the researchers found that the YAP protein involved in this signaling system promotes NF2 cancer cell growth.

The Implications

In addition to learning that Celebrex might have cancer-slowing properties, the research also uncovered important information about how NP2 cancer cells grow by using YAP protein. These are important clues that will be extremely useful in the fight to find a cure for cancer. By first understanding exactly how cancer starts in the body and what resources cancer cells need to grow, researchers can begin to develop ways to stop the growth of cancerous tumors and, perhaps some day, find a way to prevent cancer from occurring at all.

It is important to note that this study has limitations, too. This particular study examined the effects of Celebrex on NF2 cancerous tumors. NF2 is a rare form of cancer that is linked to inherited genetic traits. The NF2 cancerous tumors are usually benign and attack the nerves associated with hearing. Due to the fact that this study worked with only one type of rare cancer, we don’t yet know if the effects of Celebrex will work on other forms of cancer. However, the researchers are hopeful.

Though this study had a very narrow focus on a particular type of cancer, the information that was uncovered is groundbreaking. Not only did researchers find a way to potentially slow cancer cell growth, but they also learned a great deal about how cancer cells thrive in the body. Researchers will continue to dig in this gold mine of information and continue to push for effective treatments and potentially life-saving cures

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