Turning A Painkiller Into A Cancer Killer

Thursday - 6/17/2010, 6:11pm EDT

Without knowing exactly why, scientists have long observed that people who regularly take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin have lower incidences of certain types of cancer.

Now, in a study appearing in Cancer Cell magazine, investigators at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and their colleagues have figured out how one such drug, called Sulindac, inhibits the growth of tumors. The study reveals that the drug shuts down cancer cell growth, and initiates the death of cells by binding to a nuclear receptor, that can then turn genes on or off.

Sulindac is currently prescribed for the treatment of pain and fever, and to help relieve symptoms of arthritis. The current study demonstrates a new application as a potential anti-cancer treatment that targets certain kinds of tumors.