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Combining two widely prescribed drugs which combat arthritis and high cholesterol may also halt prostate cancer, research has suggested.
Scientists at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, found that treating mice with the anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex and the statin Lipitor prevented early prostate cancer switching to a more aggressive and invasive state.
In human patients, early prostate cancer can often be held at bay for years with anti-hormone therapy which lowers production of testosterone or blocks its action on tumours.
However, the cancer generally moves into a new phase which does not require the hormone. When this happens it become much more aggressive, difficult to treat and likely to spread.
Patients then have to be given harsh chemotherapy drugs which are not effective for long.
Previous research has suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Celebrex and statins used to lower cholesterol might hold back prostate cancer.
The new studies conducted in the US involved genetically engineered mice with human prostate tumours developing under their skin.
The scientists tested the effect of Celebrex and Lipitor alone on the mice, as well as a combination of the drugs.
Professor Xi Zheng, one of the researchers from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said: “A combination of low doses of Lipitor and Celebrex had a more potent inhibiting effect on the formation of later stage tumours than a higher dose of either agent alone.”
Clinical trials to test the new approach on human patients are now planned.
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