Study finds first evidence COX-2 enzymes can regulate DNA damage

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cancer Pharmacology report the first evidence that cylcooxygenase-2 enzymes (known as COX-2) are not only responsible for pain and inflammation but that they are also involved in causing the DNA damage associated with cancer.

Dr. Ian Blair reports this study for the first time on June 15th at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)/8th International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Conference (IUBMB) in Boston. His research team's discovery casts a new light on the mechanism through which aspirin - and diets rich in fruits, grain and vegetables -- appear to lower the risk of some cancers. It also suggests a potential role for the widely used COX-2 inhibitors in the prevention of DNA damage.

In the same presentation, Dr. Blair reports new data that support his earlier discovery that vitamin C can increase DNA damage. His 2001 article in Science was the first to report a potential negative effect of vitamin C and thus caused a firestorm of attention, although Dr. Blair was careful to spell out that he believed that in order to be at risk for DNA damage from vitamin C an individual would have to take some unknown high quantity of the vitamin, experience oxidative stress, and have a problem with the ordinarily efficient DNA repair enzymes. The two studies are closely related, says Dr. Blair, because the COX-2 enzyme produces lipid hydroperoxides and vitamin C stimulates their breakdown. This results in the formation of a class of DNA-harming agents called genotoxins, which are known to be involved in the formation of certain human cancers.

Interest in the potential use of COX-2 inhibitors as anticancer agents was fueled in part a decade ago when an American Cancer Society study showed that regular use of aspirin led to an unexpectedly low incidence of colon cancer. But all was not rosy. In additi

Contact: Sarah Goodwin
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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