Aspirin-Lipid Drug Combination May Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Aspiring-PC/PL2200 reduced the amount of platelets that could be used by cancer cells to form blood vessels and spread.

Many previous studies have observed a link between aspirin and cancer prevention, but researchers have been uncertain about how this occurs, although its anti-inflammatory effects are likely involved.

However, a new study published by Cancer Prevention Research indicates that aspirin may impact platelets, which are blood cells involved with forming clots and blood vessels that can aid cancer growth.

While aspirin is not currently part of any approved cancer treatment, it is recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force to prevent colorectal cancer in certain individuals.

The new theory that aspirin effects platelets was successfully tested in mice and in cell cultures, according to the study.

The formation of new blood vessels is typically beneficial, because when a clot forms in response to a wound, new vessels are needed to redirect blood flow, according to the study. Unfortunately, this mechanism can also help cancer grow.

In the study, researchers found that aspirin inhibited the interaction between platelets and cancer cells by shutting down the COX-1 enzyme. This mechanism was observed to lower the number of circulating platelets, and diminish their activity levels, according to the authors.

In part of the study, the investigators tested standard store bought aspirin, and they also used a special type containing aspirin plus phosphatidycholine, which is a lipid that is the main ingredient in soy lecithin.

The special formulation of aspirin is called Aspirin-PC/PL2200, and was designed to reduce the gastrointestinal risks associated with the store bought version of the drug, according to the study.

The authors reported that this formulation of aspirin was seen to prevent cancer more so compared with regular aspirin.

"These results suggest that aspirin's chemopreventive effects may be due, in part, to the drug blocking the proneoplastic [supporting new, abnormal growth, as in cancer] action of platelets and [they support] the potential use of Aspirin-PC/PL2200 as an effective and safer chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer and possibly other cancers,” the authors wrote.

The investigators plan to conduct further studies to determine the safety and efficacy of the drug for the treatment of patients at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Thus far, the authors wrote their findings, "support the use of low-dose aspirin for chemoprevention.” The investigators also said that Aspiring-PC/PL2200 has similar mechanisms of action to low-dose aspirin when it comes to cancer prevention, but this formulation may provide patients with a more effective treatment with less side effects.”

If the findings are confirmed in future studies that include humans, the drug could be used as a simple, effective way to prevent certain cancers.