Aspirin has a shot at graduating from its long-term role as a headache fighter and impromptu blood thinner to a heady new role as an anti-cancer pill. The key: a little bit of gas.
Scientists at The City College of New York are developing a beefed-up aspirin that has helped reduce human colon cancer tumors implanted in mice by 85 percent, The U.K.'s The Telegraph, UPI, the Daily Mail and other news outlets report. What's also key here is that the aspirin didn't cause side effects that too much aspirin typically leave behind in humans--stomach ulcers and other digestive problems.
Lead researcher Khosrow Kashfi explained to UPI that the new compound, a unique formulation dubbed NOSH aspirin, is "very, very potent and yet it has minimal toxicity to the cells." The finding builds on previous research by Oxford University and others that showed 75 mg of aspirin a day can reduce the chance of developing some cancers by as much as 50 percent, but some patients faced stomach ulcers and other problems as a result, according to the media outlets' stories.
The City College of New York researchers added nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide to beef up its effectiveness by helping to protect the stomach wall from damage and enhance aspirin's ability to fight cancer, respectively, the Daily Mail explains. The study, the article points out, made the NOSH-aspirin 100,000 times more potent than aspirin on its own just 24 hours after treating a cancer cell culture. That number grows, in vitro, to 250,000 times more potency.
The U.K. research and the stomach-ulcer fallout is something that should prevent you from running out to the drug store and picking up lots of aspirin to beat back or prevent cancer. You'd kill your stomach, for one thing, before you even come close to promising results, even if those consumer formulations were enough to do the job. The articles also note, however, that The City College of New York researchers are years away from testing their compound in humans for formal clinical trials.
If they're successful in larger scale animal trials and then testing the compound in people, the scientists believe that they could use the drug well beyond colon cancer to also treat lung, breast, prostate, pancreas and blood cancers.