Neuroblastoma is a form of cancer that develops in the nervous system and it affects small children more commonly than any other tumour type. Now, however, scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden can show that a common painkiller can inhibit the development of neuroblastoma and help make treatment of the disease more effective.
The results apply to celecoxib, an analgesic, anti-inflammatory substance that works by inhibiting the effect of the inflammatory enzyme, Cox-2. In a study presented in Clinical Cancer Research, the research group has shown that celecoxib is also active against neuroblastoma, a type of tumour that depends on Cox-2 for its growth and proliferation.
The scientists have shown that celecoxib has an inhibitory and preventative effect on tumour development in rats. The substance also proved able to reinforce the effect of different cytostatics currently in use in the treatment of neuroblastoma.
“The painkiller can check the rapid division and growth of the cancer cells and block the blood vessels that supply the tumour with oxygen and nutrients,” says John Inge Johnsen, researcher in child cancer at Karolinska Institutet.
The researchers conclude that celecoxib is a potential anti-neuroblastoma drug, possibly in combination with other drugs.
”But it’s a matter of finding the right combination, as celecoxib can also counteract the tumouricidal effects of certain cytostatics,” says Per Kogner, Professor at Karolinska Institutet and paediatrician at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Stockholm.
The results from cell cultures and animals were obtained at concentrations that the scientists had previously measured in children receiving the medicine. They now plan to proceed to clinical trials, which will determine the way in which celecoxib can be used to treat neuroblastoma in children.
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