|Celebrex, a popular pain-reliever, may also serve as an effective anti-cancer drug. Shi-Yong Sun, PhD, assistant professor at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, has published a paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that outlines how Celebrex can induce cell-death, in lung cancer cells. The paper is published in the December 1 issue of JNCI.
In this new study, Dr. Sun and his colleagues are the first team of scientists to reveal a new mechanism of celecoxib-induced cell death in human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells. "Celecoxib (Celebrex) can induce cell death in various cancer cell lines through a mechanism independent of its COX-2 inhibitory, or pain relieving, activity," said Dr. Sun.
The study indicates that treatment with celecoxib decreased cell survival, increased DNA fragmentation by a pathway involving caspase-8 activation and induction of the expression of "death receptors," which trigger apoptosis, or cancer cell death. The authors conclude that celecoxib appears to induce apoptosis in human NSCLC cells through an extrinsic "death receptor pathway."
Celecoxib is an FDA-approved and widely marketed drug that was originally developed as an anti-inflammatory drug, not as an anti-cancer drug. Dr Sun notes that celecoxib has a simple chemical structure and should be an ideal lead compound for developing novel derivatives with more potent apoptosis-inducing activity.
"In fact, celecoxib analogs have been developed," said Dr. Sun, "and the apoptotic activity of some analogs is higher than that of celecoxib. While much more research needs to be done on this, our work suggests that death receptor induction is an important area of exploration as a target for screening novel celecoxib-based anticancer drugs and as an indicator for tumor response to celecoxib or celecoxib-based therapy."