New cancer 'wonder' drugs trigger cancer spread to bones

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: cancer drugs, IAP antagonists, spreading tumors

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(NaturalNews) Most cancer drugs are used to hopefully kill tumors and keep malignancies from spreading. Unfortunately, new research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis raises serious concerns that Big Pharma's highly touted class of cancer drugs known as IAP antagonists actually increases the risk of tumors spreading to bone.

"These investigational drugs are getting broad attention right now because they seem to be very effective against primary tumors," senior author Deborah V. Novack, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, said in a media statement "There is also excitement because until now, these drugs have not appeared to have major side effects."

However, the study by Novack and her research team (just published in the journal Cancer Discovery) reveals that while the IAP drugs target a protein that makes tumors vulnerable to death, the same protein also over-activates cells called osteoclasts which are responsible for tearing down bone. The risk for patients? Potentially, IAPs can trigger the bone weakening disease osteoporosis and, even more worrisome, they may cause metastasis of cancer to the bones.

Numerous IAP antagonists are already in early clinical trials against breast, lung, pancreatic, ovarian, prostate, liver, skin and blood cancers. While these phase one or two clinical trials look at the short-term safety and effectiveness of new drugs, the researchers say they may not catch bone metastasis. "These trials do not necessarily look for long-term effects of the drugs," Chang Yang, MD, PhD, staff scientist and the paper's first author said in the press statement. "If the cancer is going to metastasize to bone, it may take six months to two years to see that outcome. This may not be seen during the clinical trial."

Due to the study's findings, Novack has gone on record urging cancer specialists oncologists to consider protecting the bones in people taking IAP antagonists, including patients with cancers that don't typically spread to bone. "For many of these cancers, doctors are not watching bone," Novack says. "Osteoporosis is not the biggest concern when treating cancer, but if they're not doing bone scans, they may miss a cancer spreading to bone."

Normally, osteoclasts work alongside other normal cells to build new bone. But because IAP antagonists over-activate osteoclasts, bone ends up being destroyed and not replaced. Working with experiments on mice, the scientists showed that the drug led to osteoporosis and created an environment that encouraged tumor growth in degrading bone, even while killing breast cancer cells in other parts of the animals' bodies.

As Natural News has previously reported, other cancer drugs have also been found to possibly promote the disease they are supposed to fight. For example, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by researchers at the George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, hormone therapy for prostate cancer can cause a revving up of other prostate cell growth and lead to a proliferation of cancer cells in the future. In addition, researchers with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center and UAB Department of Chemistry were awarded an $805,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program in 2010. The goal? To investigate the very real possibility that dead cancer cells left over after chemotherapy spark cancer to spread to other parts of the body.

Editor's note: Natural News is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.


About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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