Saturday, 21 April 2012

Aspirin activates AMPK enzyme involved in cancer

1) Science Abstract:
2) New Scientist:

Why is salicylate (aspirin) an anti-cancer treatment?  Grahame Hardie at the University of Dundee, UK, applied salicylate to cultured human cells derived from the kidney. He found that the drug activated AMP-activated kinase AMPK, an enzyme involved in cell growth and metabolism that has been found to play a role in cancer and diabetes.

Co-author Greg Steinberg of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, then tested high doses of salicylate on various types of mice. He found that those engineered to lack AMPK did not experience the same metabolic effects from salicylate as seen in mice with AMPK.

Salicylate, in a form called salsalate, has also shown promise as a treatment for insulin-resistance and type 2 diabetes. Those effects, however, appear not to be governed by AMPK. When insulin-resistant mice lacking AMPK were given salicylate, they showed the same improvement in blood glucose levels as normal mice.

The finding potentially separates aspirin's pain-relieving effects from its cancer protection, paving the way for new anti-cancer drugs that have fewer side-effects than aspirin. The next step will be to test salicylate directly in mouse models of cancer, and to see whether AMPK remains important in mediating an anti-cancer effect.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1215327

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