According to the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project, existing, widely used noncancer drugs represent an untapped source of novel treatment options for cancer.
In a study published in the journal ecancermedicalscience, ReDO researchers showed the results of their investigation into common painkiller diclofenac. Aside from being cheap and easy to access, the medication is already in the market so that means that it has already undergone rigorous testing for safety. Ease of access also means diclofenac may help ensure that more cancer patients receive the treatment they need.
As a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), diclofenac is used for treating pain in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, fever, migraine and acute gout, as well as post-operative pain.
NSAIDs have shown potential in preventing cancer but recent research has also hinted at the drugs' efficacy in actually treating the disease. For instance, diclofenac may be administered alongside treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
ReDO researchers have gone over earlier studies and are of the belief that there's enough evidence to support the launch of a clinical trial exploring diclofenac's use as cancer treatment.
Pan Pantziarka, one of the study's authors, said that it was surprising that there remains a lot that is not understood about how standard drugs used every day work.
"But the more we learn, the more we can see that these drugs are multitargeted agents with interesting and useful effects on multiple pathways of interest in oncology," he added.
Diclofenac has multiple mechanisms of action, especially those relating to the immune system and angiogenesis, and that's why it has a huge potential as cancer treatment, particularly if administered during the perioperative period.
Metastatic disease is most often lethal to patients, not the primary cancer, so cutting down on metastases by using medications like diclofenac will be a huge boost in the fight against the disease.
Aside from keeping metastatic disease at bay, diclofenac is also seen as having potential actions that can work in harmony with the latest anti-cancer drugs developed.
Aside from Pantziarka, Vikas Sukhatme, Lydie Meheus, Gauthier Bouche and Vidula Sukhatme also contributed to the study.
Photo: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier | Flickr