Researchers at Rutgers’ Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy have shown that administering a combination of the widely used drugs Celebrex (celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and Lipitor (atorvastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug) stops the transition of early prostate cancer to its more aggressive and potentially fatal stage.
In the early stage of the disease, when it is typically diagnosed, prostate cancer cells depend on androgen hormones, such as testosterone, to grow. Treatment at this stage involves either decreasing the production of the hormone or blocking its actions on the cancer cells.
“Anti-androgen therapy slows the prostate cancer but eventually the cancer becomes androgen-independent, the therapy becomes ineffective and the cancer cells become more aggressive,” said Xi Zheng, assistant research professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, who conducted the study.
“Treatments available for the later stage cancers are not very good,” said Allan Conney, director of Rutgers’ Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research, another researcher on the project. “Oncologists employ classical chemotherapy drugs which are very toxic and don’t work all that well.”
Zheng and Conney’s research objective was to find a way to indefinitely delay the transition to androgen-independence, prolonging the time during which the cancer would be responsive to effective, low-toxicity, anti-hormone therapy.
Zheng explained that their experiments were first conducted on cell cultures in the laboratory, where the researchers tested the effects of the drugs on the growth of prostate cancer cells from four different cell lines. They then moved on to test the drugs on specially bred mice in which prostate cancer tumors were introduced under the skin. Celebrex alone, Lipitor alone, and the two in combination were tested at the lab bench and on the mice.
Release date: April 14, 2008
Source: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Filed Under: Drug Discovery