This drug is prescribed as a pain and anti-inflammatory treatment.
Scientists from the Florida Campus of the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that it slowed the growth rate of cancer cells in animal models and may have the same effect on human tumors.
Cancer Research, the journal, published the study which focused on the effects of the drug, celecoxib (Pfizer’s Celebrex).
Celebrex functions by targeting an enzyme, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). This enzyme is linked to pain and inflammation.
COX-2 is also important in the formation of prostaglandins. These compounds act like hormones and promote tumor growth. In normal tissue, COX-2 expression is low but high in many types of cancers.
TSRI Associate Professor, Joseph Kissil led the study and explained that the original purpose of the study was to determine “what a particular signaling pathway does in cancer.” While researching, it was found that the signaling pathway activates genes that may enable the survival of tumor cells by turning on enzymes involved in inflammation.
Researchers tracked the effects of celecoxib on cancer cells in animals. They focused on a particular tumor type known as neurofibromatosis type II (NF2). NF2 is relatively rare in humans; it is a result of mutations in the anti-tumor gene NF2.
Animals in the study received a dose of the drug every day and then tumor growth was monitored and measured through imaging. The results demonstrate a there is a significantly slower tumor growth rate in the animals treated with celecoxib when compared to the controls.
The study demonstrates that COX2 inhibitors have an impact on tumor cells. Researchers believe that the drugs role in inflammation is the cause of this and may have a greater effect in other cancers.