This old drug can be a hope for preventing stomach cancer

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We all hope for a future where we can stop cancer in its tracks before it fully forms.

Research at Vanderbilt University led by Eunyoung Choi, Ph.D., shines a light of hope in this direction, particularly for stomach cancer, which globally stands as the fifth most common and third deadliest cancer type.

Pyrvinium: From Treating Worms to Preventing Cancer

Pyrvinium might sound unfamiliar, but this drug has been safeguarding us from intestinal pinworms for over 70 years. The safety of this drug is well-established, making it an interesting candidate for new medical purposes.

Recently, it caught the eye of cancer researchers as studies hinted that it might also have the power to hinder the growth of several types of cancers including colorectal, breast, and liver cancers.

Choi and her team have pushed these findings further, delving deep into its potential role in preventing stomach cancer.

A series of studies led by Choi have explored how stomach cancer forms through dysplasia, which means the cells grow abnormally.

Currently, if you have gastric dysplasia, the treatment usually involves procedures like endoscopic resection or surgical removal of small lesions.

But Choi’s recent studies, published in Gastroenterology, illuminate pyrvinium’s potential to act as a preventative treatment, stopping the stomach cancer before it takes hold.

How Does Pyrvinium Work Against Precancerous Cells?

Interestingly, pyrvinium doesn’t just work in one way to prevent stomach cancer.

The drug manages to block two important signaling pathways in cells, named MEK/ERK and STAT3, which are involved in cell growth and can be problematic when they go awry.

Pyrvinium ensures that these pathways are interrupted, inducing death in precancerous cells and stopping them from progressing to full-blown cancer.

Moreover, Choi’s lab uniquely identified a specific type of stem cell that seems to be a key player in the progression from dysplasia to stomach cancer.

The drug targets these problematic stem cells, thereby helping to stop the transformation into cancer.

An Encouraging Future Step: Clinical Trials

With such promising findings in hand, pyrvinium is potentially a future weapon against stomach cancer for those at high risk. Especially since it has a history of safe use, the next viable step, as suggested by Choi, would be to initiate clinical trials.

This would involve testing pyrvinium in patients with high-risk precancerous conditions in the stomach, exploring its real-world application and effectiveness.

Should pyrvinium prove successful in clinical trials, it could offer a simpler, less invasive preventative treatment for those at high risk for stomach cancer, potentially transforming care pathways and outcomes for patients across the globe.

Future research will undoubtedly unfold more about the vast potentials hidden in this decades-old drug, potentially giving us a novel tool in our ongoing battle against cancer.

If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements could strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer and results showing higher intake of dairy foods linked to higher prostate cancer risk.

The research findings can be found in Gastroenterology.

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