IIT Madras scientists discover how simple painkiller Aspirin could cure cancer

11th Apr 2017
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For the past few years, many scientists have spoken of the common headache drug Aspirin having the ability to cure cancer. However, they were not exactly sure how this could be done. Now, according to a The Times Of India report, scientists from IIT Madras have found how this simple drug can destroy cancer cells.

Representational Image. Source: Pixabay

Aspirin, which is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug, has been reported to play a crucial role in targeting malignant cells high in a protein called voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC). The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. According to India Today, IIT-M Professor of Biotechnology Amal Kanti Bera said,

The drug induces high levels of calcium ions in the mitochondria of the cancer cells. Elevated levels of calcium prevent mitochondria from breaking down food into energy. Aspirin prevents this energy production and releases toxic substances that kill the cell.

Researcher Debanjan Tewari, who began his PhD work on protein when animal studies showed anti-cancer properties in Aspirin three years ago, told The Times Of India,

This study will help pharmaceutical researchers design more potent anti-cancer drugs. When we understand how a molecule works, the scope for new drug discovery widens. Research has shown how low-dose aspirin taken every day can reduce risks of cardiac diseases in high-risk people. We hope it has the same effect on cancer.

Amal also said,

We may not be able to say if Aspirin can be directly used as an anti-cancer drug right away, since it needs large clinical studies. But we know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

According to India Today, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reported in 2016 that the total number of new cancer cases expected that year was around 14.5 lakh, and could reach nearly 17.3 lakh by 2020. The number of people expected to succumb to cancer in 2016 was over 7.36 lakh, and that number could reach up to 8.8 lakh by 2020. As per the data, it was also observed that only 12.5 percent of people suffering from cancer come in for treatment in the early stages.

Many have found it hard to believe that an antibiotic so inexpensive can cure cancer. However, the recent research gives a glimmer of hope. With more and more people being prone to suffer from cancer, this discovery comes as a massive breakthrough, and also makes way for an affordable cancer treatment.

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