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Low dose naltrexone (LDN): Harnessing the body's own chemistry to treat human ovarian cancer
Date:7/12/2011

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania have discovered that a low dose of the opioid antagonist naltrexone (LDN) has an extraordinarily potent antitumor effect on human ovarian cancer in tissue culture and xenografts established in nude mice. When LDN is combined with chemotherapy, there is an additive inhibitory action on tumorigenesis. This discovery, reported in the July 2011 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, provides new insights into the pathogenesis and treatment of ovarian neoplasia, the 4th leading cause of cancer-related mortality among women in the United States.

The strategy of LDN therapy in repressing cancer was first reported over 30 years ago by Drs. Zagon and McLaughlin (Science 221:671-673). Naltrexone (NTX) is a general opioid receptor antagonist devoid of intrinsic activity that results in a compensatory elevation in endogenous opioids and opioid receptors. Blockade of opioid peptides from opioid receptors for a short time each day (4 to 6 hr) with LDN provides a sufficient window of time (18-20 hr) for the elevated levels of endogenous opioids and opioid receptors to interact and elicit a response: inhibition of cell proliferation. Thus, LDN acts as a decoy to upregulate native opioids and opioid receptors. When NTX is metabolized and no longer present, an enhanced opioid-receptor effect is permitted to occur. The endogenous opioid peptide, opioid growth factor (OGF) (chemical term = [Met5]-enkephalin) and its receptor (OGFr) is related to LDN action, and constitutes a tonically active inhibitory axis that suppresses cell proliferation through a depression in DNA synthesis by way of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitory pathways. In the case of human ovarian cancer, this laboratory (Amer. J. Physiol. 296:R1716-1725, 2009) previously found that the OGF-OGFr axis is present and functional in human ovarian cancer.

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Contact: Dr. Ian Zagon
isz1@psu.edu
717-531-6409
Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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