Repurposed indomethacin shows potential with ovarian cancer

Repurposed indomethacin shows potential with ovarian cancer

An old anti-inflammatory drug, Indomethacin, has been found to rank highly as a potential compound to fight Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (EOC), according to research by Dr. Anil Belur Nagaraj, PhD, at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Repurposing old drugs to help fight cancer is a promising development in cancer medicine because the drugs have been in existence for a long-time and their (often minimal) side-effects are well-documented. The drugs are much better tolerated than chemotherapy and because they are usually off-patent, they are cheap. Big Pharma thus has little interest in such drugs.  

At Cape Western the team have developed a novel computational drug-repurposing platform called ‘DrugPredict’. It involves computational algorithms and can analyse a very large number of drugs relatively quickly. 

In this research, scientists analysed nearly 7,000 existing drugs and found 15 drugs which were already FDA approved and ranked highly for ovarian cancer. These fell into the class of NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, like aspirin). Aspirin has shown benefits in the past with ovarian cancer. It is known to reduce risk and also inhibit spread of ovarian cancer.

And that is Indomethacin – it is an NSAID normally used as a prescription medication to reduce fever, pain, stiffness, and swelling from inflammation. It is proven to work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, compounds proven to cause these symptoms.

The researchers then took samples of ovarian tumours and ascites and tested the drug on its own, and with cisplatin. They found a significant effect in both cases and concluded that it reduced cancer cell viability whether tumours were sensitive to cisplatin or not. They also showed that indomethacin induced ovarian cancer cell cycle arrest, and reduced tumour size.

Of particular importance was that they were using samples of high-grade serious ovarian cancer (HGSOC) which has a poor outcome with 5-year survival of less than 30%.

Ref: Nagaraj AB, et al. 2017 Oct 2. doi: 10.1038/onc.2017.328. 
2018 Research
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