15/02/2012 08:32 GMT

Aspirin ‘Could Stop Cancer Tumours Spreading'

Australian scientists have discovered that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, could prevent cancer tumours growing and spreading around the body.

Researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, discovered aspirin could stop and reverse the metastasise (spread) of tumours in the lymphatic vessels, after results pinpointed a link between the drug and lymphatic system – the place where tumours begin to grow.

For many years, medical experts have observed the beneficial impact of NSAIDs but now researchers believe that the link is significant enough to pave the way for new aspirin-led treatments to halt tumour growth.

"We've known that tumours actively secrete a range of proteins and compounds, called growth factors, to attract the blood and lymphatic vessels from within their immediate vicinity, enabling them to flourish and metastasise, or spread," professor Steven Stacker from the study explained in a statement.

In this research, experts discovered a gene that links tumour growth to the pathway that causes inflammation and dilation of the blood vessels that pass through the body. This process encourages the vessels to widen and for the tumour to spread.

However, when NSAIDs were used, researchers discovered they had the profound ability to target the pathway, also known as the ‘prostaglandin’, and, "effectively tighten a tumour's supply line and restrict the transport of cancer cells to the rest of the body," Dr Tara Karnezis, from the study, explained in a statement.

"The potential is incredibly exciting, as these new and improved drugs could help contain many solid ‘epithelial’ tumours, including breast and prostate cancer," added Dr Karnezis.

Oliver Childs, senior science information officer, from Cancer Research UK told The Huffington Post: "Preventing or halting cancer spread is incredibly important, as around nine in ten cancer deaths are down to the disease spreading.

"This is early-stage lab work and doesn’t suggest aspirin alone can stop cancer spread in patients. But it does uncover some fascinating early biology, and may be an early step towards new strategies to halt tumour spread."

Recently, a group of researchers found a link between aspirin and hereditary bowel cancer. However, this followed another study, which found that healthy people who take aspirin, could be doing more harm than good.

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