Results of another study presented at the press conference showed that the gout drug allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim) may be a potential treatment for colorectal cancer and prevention. The drug has been on the market for more than 20 years and costs only about $1.40 a month, according to lead researcher Dr. Andrea De Censi, director of the medical oncology unit at Galliera Hospital in Genoa, Italy.
But the study was small and preliminary, and more trials are needed before scientists can prove a real benefit for patients, the researchers said.
For the study, Censi's group did a preliminary trial that pitted allopurinol against a placebo in 73 patients with pre-cancerous colorectal polyps, with patients taking either a 100-mg or 300-mg dose of the drug. The patients stayed on their regimes for four to six weeks before their polyps were removed.
The researchers looked for changes in a tumor tissue biomarker dubbed Ki67. The researchers found that in the first 13 patients the level of Ki67 rose only 5 percent among those taking either dose of the drug, compared with more than doubling in patients taking a placebo.
In tumor tissue, the level of Ki67 rose 6 percent in patients taking 100 mg allopurinol and 12 percent in patients taking 300 mg allopurinol, while it increased 70 percent among those receiving a placebo, the researchers found.
"Taken together, our findings support the evidence of a preventive effect of allopurinol on colorectal carcinogenesis and therefore provide the rational for a larger clinical study," De Censi said during the press conference.
For more information on colon cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Nov. 8, 2010, teleconference with Mic
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