Wednesday 11 September 2013

Aspirin To Treat Liver Tumours?

There were a number of really interesting papers that popped up over the summer, and I'll be blogging about them in the next few days. For today though I'll focus on an open-access paper in the World Journal of Hepatology (and in case you're wondering, hepatology is the branch of medicine focused on the liver, pancreas and gall bladder). The paper is entitled 'In vivo assessment of intratumoral aspirin injection to treat hepatic tumors' and looks at what happens when you inject aspirin directly into liver tumours. Given the very high levels of interest in the anticancer properties of aspirin, taking it to the next level and injecting it directly rather than swallowing it seems such an obvious idea that it's a suprise that no one has tried this. But then it's often the case that it's the simple, obvious ideas that get over-looked.

And the results? Stunning, to be honest. The experiment took place in rabbits implanted with liver tumours and then injected with a solution of sodium bicarbonate and aspirin. Firstly there seemed to be no ill-effects - the rabbits showed no physical changes aside from changes in the tumours injected. And here the results were clear - the tumours collapsed and seven days after the treatment had disappeared completely, whereas in the control group the tumours continued to grow as expected. Furthermore, there was no evidence that the tumours started to recur or regrow.

Clearly this is a small study in rabbits and not humans, but the result is really striking and it cries out for follow up research. Given the low toxicity of aspirin, the obvious follow-up is for a small human trial. If the results are as fast and as positive we should know very quickly whether this is a viable treatment option to explore further.

Unfortunately I've not been able to contact the researchers (in Brazil), but hopefully this isn't destined to be one of those interesting results that sits languishing on the shelves and goes no where.

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