A scientific breakthrough by Australian scientists reveals that aspirin and other household drugs may hold the key to curing cancer.
The humble aspirin could play a key part in future cancer treatment
Doctors have long suspected that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin may help inhibit the spread of cancer. Last year we reported how a daily dose of aspirin reduces the risk of bowel cancer by over half.
Now, scientists at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne have discovered that aspirin may inhibit the spread of cancer by helping to shut down the chemical pathways that feed tumours.
In our body, we have blood vessels and a lymphatic system. Cancer cells can sometimes spread through the lymphatic system and form secondary tumours in the lymph nodes, in a process called metastasis.
Scientists found lymphatic vessels expand in the process of metastasis, increasing their volume and therefore allow cells and fluid to be transported more readily, a bit like a highway for cancer cells.
The institute's associate professor Steven Stacker said: “Basically, the growth factors released by tumours also encourage nearby collecting lymphatic vessels to widen, increasing the capacity for these 'supply lines' to act as more effective conduits of cancer spread."
The researchers discovered that NSAIDs like aspirin can play a role in shutting down the dilation of these lymphatic vessels, effectively closing off a tumour's supply lines.
Their findings, published in the journal Cancer Cell, could lead to new and improved cancer drugs which could help prevent many solid tumours spreading.
The researchers also think their findings could lead to an early warning system to help doctors work out if a tumour is likely to spread.
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