Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gaseous aspirin is a very potent anti-cancer drug

Aspirin is a wondrous drug. It was originally developed to reduce minor pain and for use as a minor anti-inflammatory drug. While developed decades ago, it is still well-known and we keep finding new uses for it, peculiar enough. A while back, scientists showed that aspirin is able to significantly reduce the incidence of colon cancer. A new study by The City College of New York found a way to make it a lot more effective: they added two chemicals the the aspirin molecule that are normally found in gas form. Apparently, this shape protects the healthy tissues from side effects, and makes aspirin about 100.000 times more potent as anti-cancer drug in colon cancer.

Gaseous aspirin is known as NOSH-aspirin, because it contains the gases NO (nitric oxide) and SH (hydrogen sulphide). Normally, the body produces these two gases in order to protect the gut wall from damage. One of aspirin's well-known side effects is that it causes intestinal bleeding. Therefore, scientists figured that adding NO and SH to it should protect the body from bleeding internally.
NOSH-aspirin was tested on 11 different types of human tumour, including colon, to which it had already been found to be effective. The scientists used cell lines: immortalized clones of cells that keep on dividing, which are frequently used for lab tests. NOSH-aspirin was found to be effective in killing all cell types, highlighting its potential as a cancer drug. When it comes to colon cancer, the NO and SH additions made it a 100.000 more effective than aspirin in its conventional shape.

Attaching extra chemicals made the drug much more effective in killing tumour cells. However, it also retained its functions as an anti-inflammatory drug: aspirin keeps surprising us. Nevertheless, scientists have so far only done tests in the lab, on a bunch of cloned cells of cancerous origin. Clinical trials are needed to confirm its anti-tumour potential, and the researchers think these tests could be started in as little as two years. Because of the incredible boost in efficacy and its effect on many different forms of cancer, it looks very promising for future treatments of cancer.

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