By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Uterus1
A recent study examining ovarian cancer cells may provide researchers with ammunition in their battle against recurrent cancers, and the new weapon seems improbably simple; by using an aspirin-like compound in conjunction with a chemotherapy drug already widely used for cancer treatment, it may be possible to lower cells’ resistance to chemotherapy, thereby increasing its likelihood of success.
| Some Common Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer|
Some common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
Changes in monthly periods
Abdominal or pelvic pain, pressure and/or bloating
Bowel or urinary disturbances
Since ovarian cancer has many symptoms in common with other disorders of the female reproductive tract, it is important to take any such symptoms seriously and talk to a trusted healthcare provider.
To find a women’s healthcare provider in your area, you can click here to visit our physician finder page.
Typically, ovarian cancer is treated with surgery to remove the cancerous tissue and then patients receive a round of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. But when ovarian cancer returns, cisplatin is not successful in killing the cells because they are able to adapt and become resistant to the drug.
The cells are able to resist the drug due to their development of powerful antioxidants which protect the cells from being harmed by chemotherapy. Lead author Periannan Kuppusamy, professor of internal medicine at Ohio State University, wondered if the antioxidants, called thiols, could also be used against the resistant cells.
It turns out that nitric oxide from an aspirin derivative called NCX-4016 reacts with thiols in a way that makes the cancer cells stop reproducing and at the same time depletes the thiols so that chemotherapy is more effective. In this way, NCX-4016 effectively “double-teams” stubborn cancer cells, both inhibiting their ability to replicate and increasing the likelihood that chemotherapy will be able to do its work and kill the unwanted and dangerous intruders.
The study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online, was a collaboration between Kuppusamy and Dr. Louis Ignarro of the University of California. Ignarro and two other colleagues won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Physiology for their research into the role of nitric oxide in biology.
Ovarian cancer affects about one in 70 women and accounts for about 15,000 deaths per year in the United States. The disease accounts for about four percent of new cancer cases annually, and about 25,000 cases are diagnosed every year. One of the difficulties with ovarian cancer in particular is that early symptoms often appear to be due to other common problems or conditions of the female reproductive tract such as pre-menopausal changes, dietary changes, or even a few particularly uncomfortable or irregular periods.
Other forms of cancer resistant to chemotherapy include kidney and colon cancers, which are resistant from the point of their growth in the body. Lymphoma and breast cancers, which often develop resistance after some treatment, can come back stronger after chemotherapy. Ideally, the research of Kuppusamy and Ignarro will provide hints to medical researchers hoping to fight these and many other forms of resistant cancer safely and effectively.
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