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Novel computer program suggests NSAIDs are an effective ovarian cancer treatment

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Recently published in Oncogene a computer program termed DrugPredict suggested NSAIDs could be applied to epithelial ovarian cancer. Using these results, the researchers demonstrated common pain medications including aspirin can kill patient-derived epithelial ovarian cancer cells.

First, the ovarian cancer cells were exposed to indomethacin which was found to kill both drug resistant and drug sensitive forms of the cancer cells. Second, chemotherapy drugs were added to the experiments which cause the cancer cells to die even faster.

A major challenge in developing novel ovarian cancer drugs is the increasing cost of clinical trials and drug development timelines. Computer programs like Drug Predict could begin to ‘reposition’ FDA-approved drugs for new indications, helping to overcome these challenges.

“Traditional drug discovery process takes an average of 14 years and billions of dollars of investment for a lead anti-cancer drug to make the transition from lab to clinic,” stated Anil Belur Nagaraj from Case Western Reserve University (OH, USA). “Drug re-positioning significantly shortens the long lag-phase in drug discovery and also reduces the associated cost.”

“For any given disease, DrugPredict simultaneously performs both a target-based, and phenotypic screening of over half a million chemicals, all in just a few minutes,” explained Rong Xu (Case Western Reserve University),”The primary advantage of drug re-positioning over traditional drug development is that it starts from compounds with well-characterized pharmacology and safety profiles. This significantly reduces the risk of adverse effects and attrition in clinical trials.”

“By combining my laboratory’s expertise in ovarian cancer biology and Dr. Xu’s expertise in bioinformatics, we were able to uncover a potentially novel drug approach to treat ovarian cancer.” commented Analisa DiFeo (Case Western Reserve University).

Nagaraj concluded: “Currently there are no drugs targeting cancer stem cells being evaluated in ovarian cancer clinical trials. Our results provide a rationale to test NSAIDs like Indomethacin as a novel drug in ovarian cancer clinical trials.”

The results from this study will now be developed into a Phase I clinical trial at Case Western Reserve University.

Sources: Eureka press release; Nagaraj A, Wang Q, Joseph P et al. Using a novel computational drug-repositioning approach (DrugPredict) to rapidly identify potent drug candidates for cancer treatment. Oncogene doi: 10.1038/onc.2017.328 (2017).

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