New cancer ‘wonder’ drugs trigger cancer spread to bones

By on February 20, 2013

(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.

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