(New York, NY -- August 25, 2004) -- Anti-inflammatory drugs may be effective tools in preventing liver cancer, according to researchers at Hadassah Medical Center in the Ein Kerem suburb of Jerusalem and the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School. The findings have been released today on the prestigious scientific journal Nature Web site, in the “Advanced On-Line Publication” site, prior to publication in a future issue of Nature.
Liver cancer kills more than a thousand persons a day worldwide. The vast majority of liver cancer cases are associated with chronic inflammation. The Hadassah team, working during the last five years with mice, has identified a protein that increases the probability of producing cancer cells.
The research was conducted by a team led by Dr. Eli Pikarsky, of the department of Pathology at Hadassah Medical Center, and Prof. Yinon Ben-Neriah, in the Lautenberg Center for Immunology at Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem.
The researchers studied laboratory mice that spontaneously developed liver cancer as a result of chronic liver inflammation. By using genetic engineering, they were able to inhibit the activity of this protein. Blocking the activity of this protein cut down the number of cancer cells produced. Furthermore, the researchers identified the signal that comes from the inflammatory cells and is responsible for activation of this protein. They then used an antibody directed against this signal and were able to boost the body’s natural defense mechanisms that fight pre-malignant cancer cell production.
Currently, the research team is investigating with mice whether long-term medication against this signal will prevent the occurrence of cancer, and if so, will go on to test the efficacy of this approach in humans. For further details: Dr. Eli Pikarsky, (972) 50-857-3237