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Defeating nicotine's double role in lung cancer
Date:6/8/2009

A lung cancer treatment that inhibits nicotine receptors was shown to double survival time in mice, according to Italian researchers.

The results of the early phase animal model study were reported in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Changes in genes encoding nicotine receptors are strongly associated not only with the tendency to smoke, but with susceptibility to lung cancer. Nicotine exposure also heightens the expression of the nicotine receptors, which leads to increased cell proliferation and inhibition of apoptosis, further setting the stage for cancer.

Patrizia Russo, Ph.D. and Laura Paleari, Ph.D. of the Lung Cancer Unit of the National Cancer Research Institute in Genoa, Italy and colleagues from San Raffaele Pisana Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care (IRCCS), Catholic University, Campus Biomedico University in Rome, Mario Negri Institute in Milan and CEA Gyf sur Yvette in France showed in past research that an antagonist of nicotine acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), may serve as an anticancer agent. The antagonist, called d-tubocurarine/α-Cobratoxin (α-CbT), specifically targeted the α7 subunit of nAChRs, the area primarily associated with increased cell proliferation.

In this study, the authors took the research a step further and showed that α-CbT could inhibit non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) growth and prolong life in non-obese/severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice that had human NSCLC grafted to their lungs. This study attempted to mimic human cancer conditions more closely by delaying treatment until the tumors were well-established. In addition to control mice that were untreated, the researchers randomized one third of the mice to receive standard chemotherapy.

They found that NOD/SCID mice treated with the standard chemotherapy agent, cisplatin, had a 16 percent longer med
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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