Cancer cells self-destruct with Celebrex

Cancer cells self-destruct with Celebrex

A pain-relief drug Celebrex (Celecoxib), already approved by the FDA for treating polyps in pre-colorectal cancer, when used in higher doses than normal, locks onto specific 'Death receptor' sites on cancer cell membranes and causes them to self-destruct; other studies have shown that it sensitises cancer cells and cancer stem cells to chemotherapy.

According to researchers at Emory School of Medicine (1); Celebrex has benefits with lung cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer (Updated from 2017, by former Oxford University Biochemiost, Chris Woollams, original author)

Celebrex and the 'death receptor'

The researchers showed that the drug works in a completely different way to the way it works in pain management – with cancer it locks in to a molecular ‘Keyhole’ on the cell surface – dubbed the ‘Death Receptor'. This off-label use is an example of repurposing drugs, for which there is the ReDO project specifically about Repurposed Drugs in Oncology.

The researchers used a helper molecule TRAIL and are saying that other molecules may make the drug even more effective, and that new variants of the basic drug may also show improved effects.

Celebrex and Colorectal Cancer

Celebrex has been approved by the FDA to fight adenomatous polyposis, a precursor to colorectal cancer. In research (2) the Celebrex drug reduces the effect of inflammation-causing COX-2 and reduces polyps by 39-46%. However, the drug is claimed to increase cardiovascular problems.

Research from the Scripps Research Institute previously showed how the COX-2 effect can also slow cancer growth (3) in this inherited pre-colorectal cancer situation.

Other studies have shown how Cox-2 inhibitors can restrict the growth of blood supplies (angiogenesis) and a 2020 review of several studies show Celebrex (celecoxib) with anti-angiogenic benefits in colorectal cancer, brain cancer and others(9).

Celebrex and Brain tumours

Because Celebrex is a prescription COX-2 inhibitor, it is proven to be an anti-inflammatory and there is some evidence it can be used as an alternative to the steroid Dexamethasone. Dexamethasone has a side-effect no one talks about - it dramatically increases blood sugar - the last thing you want if you have a brain cancer. (We have a review on Dexamethasone which clears up a lot of the misinformation - Dexamethasone - your questions answered..)

There was research from Duke that showed Celebrex could extend the use of Temozolomide to non-methylating cancers as celebrex itself had an anti-glioma action. However, much of the research has since been removed from the Internet.

But a subsequent Australian review in 2018 however showed much the same benefits - that Celebrex had pro-oxidant, cytotoxic properties and could sensitise metastatic cancer cells and cancer stem cells to chemotherapy drugs (8). This is potentially a huge finding especially in cancers like brain tumours with high levels of cancer stem cells.

Celebrex and breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer

Another study (5) from Rutgers Medical School in 2008, which combined cholesterol-lowering Lipitor with Celebrex, kicked prostate cancer out of mice. Human trials were in Phase II in 2012 at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. There is a little evidence in 2017 research that the drug may reduce motility and thus spread of prostate cancer cells. A trial with Celebrex and breast cancer was also taking place about that time supported by Cancer Research UK, as there was a view that Celebrex could slow the chances of breast cancer returning.

There is also a study with former smokers showing that Celebrex reduces the occurrence of Lung Cancer. Again, the reason given is the anti-inflammatory benefits. All trial patients had a low risk of heart attack.

Celebrex - limited side-effects

Even in the side-effect issue, everything is relative and 2016 research (4) – the PRECISION TRIAL - showed Celebrex was no more dangerous to your heart than Ibuprofen or Naproxen!

Celebrex and cancer - overview

It is clear that inflammatory cells found in the tumor microenvironment are involved in the cancer process, promoting cancer cell growth and replication, survival, and spread. Clearly the Cox-2. inhibitor, anti-inflammatory and NSAID drug Celebrex or Celecoxib) would have a role to play in restricting this. And a 2019 review of Celebrex and cancer from clinical trials concluded "Both preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated promising results of the role of celecoxib in the treatment and prevention of cancer." (7)

Go to: How to build a Repurposed drugs protocol for your cancer

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  7. Celecoxib in Cancer Therapy and Prevention - Review; Natalia Tooczko-Iwaniuk et al;  Curr Drug Targets; 2019;20(3):302-315.
  8. NSAID celecoxib: a potent mitochondrial pro-oxidant cytotoxic agent sensitizing metastatic cancers and cancer stem cells to chemotherapy; Stephen John Ralph et al; Griffith University, Gold Coast
  9. A journey of celecoxib from pain to cancer; Vol 147, April 2020; Prostaglandins and other Lipid mediators
2019 Research
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