LA JOLLA, Calif., June 18 (UPI) — A painkiller may be capable of causing cancer cells to kill themselves, U.S. researchers suggest.
Researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., say the link between taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and lower incidences of some types of cancer led them to determine how one anti-inflammatory used to treat pain and fever — called Sulindac — could initiate cell death, apoptosis, in cancer cells.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, indicates Sulindac binds to RXRa — a protein that carries a signal into the nucleus and turns genes on or off.
“Nuclear receptors are excellent targets for drug development,” senior author Xiao-kun Zhang said in a statement. “Thirteen percent of existing drugs target nuclear receptors, even though the mechanism of action is not always clear.”
RXRa normally suppresses tumors, Zhang said, but many types of cancer cells produce a truncated form of this nuclear receptor that does just the opposite.
Zhang said the study shows shortened RXRa enhanced tumor growth by stimulating other proteins that help cancer cells survive, but Sulindac could combat this deviant RXRa by turning on apoptosis.
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