Cancer-fighting flu drug
> Results raise hopes of a cure for a disease that killed more than 5,000 people in the UK in 2014
ADRUG to treat the common cold could be used to stop the spread of bladder cancer, a study has found. Researchers in Japan found that a nonsteroid antiinflammatory drug supressed the spread of the cancer in mice and also reduced its resistance to chemotherapy.
The results raise hopes of a cure for a disease that killed more than 5,000 people in the UK alone in 2014.
Bladder cancer can be split into two types – non-muscle invasive cancers, which have a 90%, five-year survival rate; and muscle invasive cancers, which at stage 4 have a 10%, five-year survival rate.
The latter types are usually treated with common cancer drugs like cisplatin, but the disease tends to become resistant over time and spread to other organs.
Researchers at Japan’s Hokkaido University inoculated human bladder cancer cells labelled with luciferase into mice, creating a xenograft bladder cancer model.
These cancer cells were labelled with an enzyme that gives off light, allowing scientists to track the cells’ response to treatment.
The primary bladder xenograft gradually grew and, after 45 days, metastatic tumours were detected in the lungs, liver and bone.
By using a microarray analysis, including more than 20,000 genes for the metastatic tumours, the team discovered a three- to 25-fold increase of the metabolic enzyme aldo-keto reductase 1C1 (AKR1C1) which mediates the resistance of metastatic bladder cancer cells.
They also found high levels of AKR1C1 in metastatic tumours removed from 25 cancer patients, proving that the phenomena discovered in the mice also occur in the human body.
Along with anti-cancer drugs, an inflammatory substance produced around the tumour, such as interleukin-1 beta, increased the enzyme levels.
The researchers also identified, for the first time, that AKR1C1 enhances tumour-promoting activities and proved that the enzyme blocks the effectiveness of cisplatin and other anticancer drugs.
They discovered that inoculating flufenamic acid, an inhibitory factor for AKR1C1, into cancerous bladder cells suppressed the cell’s invasive activities and restored the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs.
Flufenamic acid is also known as a non-steroid antiinflammatory drug used for treating common colds.
The team’s discovery is expected to spur clinical tests aimed at improving prognoses for bladder cancer patients.
In the latest cancer treatments, expensive molecular-targeted drugs are used, putting a large strain on both the medical economy and the state coffers.
“This latest research could pave the way for medical institutions to use flufenamic acid – a much cheaper cold drug – which has unexpectedly been proven to be effective at fighting cancers,” said Dr Shinya Tanaka.
Bladder cancer is the seventh most common cancer in males, with around 165,100 deaths from the disease worldwide in 2012. – The Independent