Cancer spread could be stopped by common cold medicine, scientists discover

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Tom Embury-Dennis


A drug used to treat the common cold could be used to stop the spread of bladder cancer, a study has found.

Researchers in Japan found that a nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug supressed the spread of the cancer in mice and also reduced its resistance to chemotherapy.

The results raise hopes of a cure for a disease that killed more than 5,000 people in the UK alone in 2014.

Bladder cancer can be split into two types; non-muscle invasive cancers, which have a 90 per cent, five-year survival rate, and muscle invasive cancers, which at stage 4 have a 10 per cent, five-year survival rate.

The latter types are usually treated with common cancer drugs like cisplatin, but the disease tends to become resistant over time and spread to other organs.

But in tests at Hokkaido University, human bladder cancer cells were labelled with an enzyme that gives off light, allowing scientists to track the response of the cells to treatment. These cells were then injected into mice.

Once in the rodents, the cells began to multiply and after 45 days metastatic tumours were found in the liver, lungs and bone.

Researchers discovered that injecting flufenamic acid, a drug sometimes used to treat colds, supressed the cancer cells’ invasive tendencies and made the chemotherapy drugs effective again.

“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 Dr Shinya Tanaka.

Bladder cancer is the ninth most deadly cancer in Europe. There were around 165,100 deaths from the disease worldwide in 2012