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USC researchers find drug is tough tumor fighter

Los Angeles, Aug. 29, 2005 - A close structural relative of the celebrated COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (brand name: Celebrex) is a potent tumor fighter, able to wipe out tumor cells that are resistant to conventional chemotherapies, according to an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Southern California.

Led by Axel H. Schnthal, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the researchers have been studying the effects of an analog of celecoxib that does not have its cousin's celebrated ability to block the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme integral to the inflammatory process. Nonetheless, the scientists showed that the analog manages to halt tumor growth even in drug-resistant lines of multiple myeloma cells. (Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer of the plasma cell; plasma cells are components of the blood, and play a key role in the body's immune response.)

The work was published in the most recent online edition of the journal Blood, and will be appearing in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

Most of the attention celecoxib has received in recent years has been as a result of its anti-inflammatory effects and, most recently, the withdrawal of the two other main COX-2 inhibitors on the market-Vioxx and Bextra-after data unearthed linking them to an increased risk of stroke in some patients. (Celebrex remains on the market, but now carries a "black box" warning about the potential for cardiovascular side effects.)

But the truth is, celecoxib is more than just an anti-inflammatory agent. Over the past couple of years, researchers have begun to recognize that cyclooxygenase-2 can sometimes play a role in cancer; for instance, they've shown that the enzyme is overexpressed by multiple myeloma cells, and that this is a predictor of a poor outcome for the patient. Thus, it seemed clear that a cylooxygenase inhibitor might be able to tur
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Contact: Jon Weiner
jon.weiner@usc.edu
323-442-2830
University of Southern California
29-Aug-2005


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