Common Cold Medicine Suppresses Bladder Cancer Metastasis

A nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug used to treat common colds blocks bladder cancer cells from spreading in mice.

A certain type of cold medicine was found to stop bladder cancer from spreading and reduce chemoresistance in mice.

In a recent experiment, researchers used human bladder cancer cells labeled with luciferase, and implanted them into mice to create a xenograft bladder cancer model. As the bladder xenograft grew, metastatic tumors were found in the lungs, liver, and bone after 45 days.

The results of the study showed a 3- to 25-fold increase of the metabolic enzyme aldo-keto reductase 1C1 (AKR1C1). Furthermore, researchers discovered high levels of AKR1C1 in the metastatic tumors removed from 25 cancer patients, indicating that this process seen in mice also occurred in the human body.

Through the study, researchers were able to identify for the first time that AKR1C1 enhanced tumor-promoting properties, proving that the enzyme can block the efficacy of cancer drugs, such as cisplatin. Upon further discovery researchers found that flufenamic acid, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat common colds, showed benefit in cancer activity.

Researchers found that inoculating flufenamic acid into cancerous bladder cells caused the suppression of cell activity and restored the cancer drug’s efficacy. The authors noted that they hope their findings will promote clinical tests that look to improve prognoses for bladder cancer treatments.

“This latest research could pave the way for medical institutions to use flufenamic acid — a much cheaper cold drug – which has unexpectedly been proven to be effective at fighting cancers,” said researcher Shinya Tanaka.