THE humble aspirin may be a powerful weapon against cancerous tumours.
Melbourne scientists have discovered how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin prevent tumours spreading.
The breakthrough by Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre researchers paves the way for new treatments to halt cancer in its tracks.
Co-lead author Dr Tara Karnezis said tumours secreted proteins and compounds called growth factors attracting blood and lymphatic vessels to their vicinity, allowing the cancer to flourish and spread.
These growth factors also encouraged lymphatic vessels – or “supply lines”- to widen, which enabled the spread of cancer, Dr Karnezis said.
“But a group of drugs reverse the widening of the supply line and make it hard for the tumour to spread – at the end of the day that’s what kills people,” he said.
“This discovery unlocks a range of potentially powerful new therapies to target this pathway in lymphatic vessels, effectively tightening a tumour’s supply lines and restricting the transport of cancer cells to the rest of the body.”