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Pain-killer Drug Can Help Fight Breast Cancer

A new study using tissue cultures suggests, that a pain killing medication helps by halting the production of an enzyme that is key to a common form of breast cancer. The name of the painkiller is Nimesulide. //

In the labs experiments on breast cancer cells, scientists found that derivatives of nimesulide stopped the production of aromatase, the enzyme implicated in estrogen-dependent breast cancer. This form of cancer is the most common breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Aromatase converts hormones called androgens into estrogens, Estrogen is a powerful mitogen, which is an agent that causes cells to divide, and too much estrogen can cause cells to divide too quickly.

Robert Brueggemeier, professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy and dean of the College of Pharmacy at Ohio State University, and the co-author of the study states that many women with estrogen-dependent breast cancer take aromatase inhibitors to control their disease, the problem is that the current inhibitor drugs halt estrogen production throughout the body. Meaning that other parts like bones and brains, which need normal aromatase production, might suffer.

The results suggest that nimesulide may block aromatase production only in breast tissue. Nimesulide is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), used for pain and inflammation. Studies of other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, have suggested that NSAIDs may reduce breast cancer incidence by 40 percent. They said that by altering certain basic chemical structure of the drug, they could create several variations or analogs, of nimesulide. Nimesulide was banned from clinical and over the counter use in the United States due to rare cases of liver damage and related deaths.

The researchers took several of these analogs and in laboratory cultures, tested their effects on estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells taken from human breast tissue. They also tested them on human placental cells to see if the analogs would stop aromatase production in these cells. They found that the analogs stopped aromatase production in the breast cells, but not in the placental cells.

Brueggemeierm, stated that aromatase is important for normal functions of many tissues in the body, they still had to test it on other tissues. He further stated that the next step would be to see and study how the analogs affect other types of tissues to make sure that nimesulides aromatase-inhibiting effects are truly isolated to breast tissue. And then to learn how effective these compounds are when they are actually inside the body and what the potential side effects may be.


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