London, Feb 15 (ANI): Scientists in Australia have discovered that aspirin can stop tumours from spreading, suggesting that the humble painkiller could be the secret weapon to beat cancer.
They hope the breakthrough will pave the way for new treatments, which may even help, cure the disease for good, the Daily Express reported
"I hope this information is one bit of the puzzle that will lead to a cure for cancer," said lead researcher Dr Tara Karnezis, of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
Aspirin, a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug - or NSAID - has long been known to slash the death rates from a range of common cancers including those of the stomach and bowel, oesophagus, pancreas, lungs, prostate, bladder, breast and kidneys.
But the exact way it worked to do this was unknown.
Now, the Australian team have discovered that cancer tumours secrete proteins and compounds called growth factors. These attract blood and lymphatic vessels to their vicinity and allow the cancer to flourish and spread.
The growth factors have also been shown to encourage these lymphatic vessels - or "supply lines" - to widen, allowing the spread of cancer.
But Dr Karnezis said NSAID drugs can stop this widening, therefore hindering the spread of the disease.
"A group of drugs reverse the widening of the supply line and make it hard for the tumour to spread. At the end of the day that's what kills people," said Dr Karnezis.
"This discovery unlocks a range of potentially powerful new therapies to target this pathway in lymphatic vessels, effectively tightening a tumour's supply lines and restricting the transport of cancer cells to the rest of the body," she indicated.
While cancer specialists may include aspirin in patients' treatment, this discovery will enable the development of better and more efficient drugs, she conluded.
The finding has been published in the journal Cancer Cell. (ANI)
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