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New drug for prostate cancer prevention

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM. There is strong evidence that the cyclooxygenase (COX) pathway is involved in prostate cancer. Research has shown that the COX-2 enzyme is more prevalent in prostate cancer tissue than in normal tissue. There is also evidence that medications such as aspirin and selective COX-2 inhibitors (Vioxx and Celebrex) can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Both aspirin and the COX-2 inhibitors do, unfortunately, have some bad side effects and Vioxx was recently withdrawn from the market because it was found to double the risk of heart attack.

Fairly recently, French researchers developed a new drug called NO-ASA. NO-ASA or nitric oxide donating aspirin (nitroxy-butyl-acetylsalicylate) combines the proven anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin with the anti-bleeding properties of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide (NO) helps the immune system destroy tumour cells, bacteria, viruses, and other invading micro-organisms and also plays a role in planned cell death (apoptosis). NO is widely distributed in the body and is found in especially high concentrations in prostate tissue.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh now report that NO-ASA and its cousin, NO-ibuprofen, may have important roles in preventing and halting prostate cancer. Although human trials are no doubt a long way off initial results are promising. The researchers studied the effect of NO-ASA and NO-ibuprofen on hormone- sensitive and hormone-insensitive prostate cancer cell lines as well as on primary cultures of prostatic stroma (the cells forming the overall structure of the gland). They found that both NO-NSAIDs (NO-aspirin and NO-ibuprofen) were potent inhibitors of cell proliferation and strongly induced apoptosis (planned cell death) in all three cultures. The researchers conclude that these new drugs show great promise for prostate cancer prevention and treatment and may also prove useful in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate).
Royle, S, et al. Nitric oxide donating nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cell systems and human prostatic stroma via caspase-3. Journal of Urology, Vol. 172, July 2004, pp. 338-44

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