Celecoxib, one of the most widely prescribed pain and anti-inflammatory medications, may be additionally effective in retarding the rate of growth of a specific type of cancer, neurofibromatosis type II (NF2). NF2 is a relatively rare inherited form of cancer in humans, caused by mutations in the anti-tumor gene NF2, which leads to benign tumors of the auditory nerve. The findings, from new research in animal models, suggest that the drug could be similarly effective on other types of tumors. The study was conducted by a team from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Jupiter FL, and appears online ahead of print in the journal Cancer Research. Marketed as Celebrex® by Pfizer Co., celecoxib targets the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is linked to pain and inflammation. The enzyme is also critical in the creation of prostaglandins, compounds that act like hormones and play a role in promoting tumor growth. COX-2 expression is typically low in normal tissue, but high in several types of cancers.
The Scripps research was investigating a cancer signaling pathway, which was found to work through activation of genes that promote tumor cells using enzymes that include COX-2. The team proceeded to evaluate the COX-2 inhibitory effect of celecoxib and resultant impact on tumor growth. Animals who received a daily dose of the drug exhibited significantly slower tumor growth than did controls. TSRI research associate William Guerrant, PhD, commented “Our study shows that COX2 inhibitors do have an effect on the tumor cells. They also have an impact on inflammatory responses that play a role in tumor growth. It’s possible that in other cancers these effects might actually be stronger because of the drug’s impact on inflammation.” Read a news story about the discovery, with link to the journal article, here.