New clues to how humble painkiller stifles cancer growth

May 26, 2011
New clues to how humble painkiller stifles cancer growth
Ibuprofen is one of several 'profens' being investigated for their ability to prevent cancer.

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of our scientists has shed light on how a common class of painkillers – which includes ibuprofen – may interact with a key protein that fuels the growth of many different types of cancer, according to a study published in the journal Chemical Communications this week.

Ibuprofen is one of several ‘profens’ – a particular group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – being investigated for their ability to prevent cancer.

Our research team, from the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, carried out an analysis of drugs in the same class as and discovered that they are all processed by the body in exactly the same way – through a protein called AMACR, which converts the into its active form.

AMACR is overactive in almost all prostate cancers, some bowel cancers and several other types of cancer and is thought to fuel the growth of the disease by boosting the cell’s energy supply.

So understanding how drugs like ibuprofen might alter AMACR activity could help scientists better understand how they are able to block cancer growth.

Lead author Dr Matthew Lloyd, said: “Our study is the first to test other drugs in the same family as ibuprofen systematically and show that they‘re all processed by the same protein in the body. Some early laboratory studies have suggested that high doses of ibuprofen can halt the growth of prostate cancer cells, but the reasons for this aren’t well understood.

“Understanding more about how this protein is acting in cells and what molecules it interacts with could provide important clues to how this process works, hopefully opening up new avenues of research for treating prostate cancer in the future.”

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “This research is part of an international effort to understand how drugs like ibuprofen could prevent, or slow down, the development of . But there are risks as well as benefits and long term use of these drugs can have side effects, such as bleeding and stomach ulcers. Understanding more about how these drugs work on a molecular level is a crucial step in being able to develop better targeted drugs with fewer side effects in future.”

For the full paper please see: Chiral inversion of 2-arylpropionyl-CoA esters by human α-methylacyl-CoA racemase 1A (P504S)—a potential mechanism for the anti-cancer effects of ibuprofen.

Explore further: Researchers develop a novel device to image the minute forces and actions involved in cell membrane hemifusion

Related Stories

Ibuprofen linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

May 05, 2008

Long-term use of ibuprofen and other drugs commonly used for aches and pains was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the May 6, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journa ...

Recommended for you

Expanding the code of life with new 'letters'

1 hour ago

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as "letters," that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting ...

Researchers find 'decoder ring' powers in micro RNA

May 26, 2015

MicroRNA can serve as a "decoder ring" for understanding complex biological processes, a team of New York University chemists has found. Their study, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points ...

DNA mutations get harder to hide

May 26, 2015

Rice University researchers have developed a method to detect rare DNA mutations with an approach hundreds of times more powerful than current methods.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.