New Delhi/New York: With researchers finding in a trial involving 10,000 adults that an existing anti-inflammatory drug has the potential to lower lung cancer risk, doctors in India have expressed hope for better tackling of the critical disease.
According to a study published in the journal Lancet, death from cancer was reduced by half in a group of people who received the highest dosage of the drug known as Canakinumab and also led to 67 per cent reduction in lung cancer incidence.
Canakinumab was found to lower inflammation, without affecting cholesterol level — which was the widely used approach for many years. It was also found effective against heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death.
“As a rule, anti-inflammatory drugs have a role in prevention of cancer. With the rise in pollution levels across the country, there will be added burden on the lungs of those who may be suffering for lung cancer,” Dinesh Katiyar, Senior Consultant (Surgical Oncologist) at Venkateshwar Hospital here, told IANS.
“Any drug that can prevent lung cancer in India will definitely be welcome,” Dr Katiyar added.
The drug marketed by drug major Novartis as Ilaris was earlier designed for treating gout and rheumatoid arthritis — which has high inflammatory markers similar to those seen in cancers and heart disease patients.
Hence, when investigated for the cancers and heart disease, those on the medium dose of Canakinumab had a 15 per cent lower chance of another heart attack, a stroke or a heart-related death over the next four years.
Lung cancer rates were reduced 26 per cent, 39 per cent and 67 per cent for the low, medium and high doses of Canakinumab, respectively.
“Our work builds on the idea that cancer and inflammation are intimately linked, and gives novel insights regarding how inhibiting inflammation may slow cancer progression and invasiveness,” said Paul Ridker, Director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, US.
“The finding has opened the possibility of including this drug for further trials along with other drugs in the treatment of cancers where an inflammatory pathology is supposed to be contributing,” Mukesh Goel, Senior Consultant (Cardio Surgeon) at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, told IANS.
However, there are major issues to advocating further widespread trials, he said.
“This is a very costly drug costing $200,000 for a year at present and routinely using this for common conditions with only a moderate clinical benefit is not beneficial,” Dr Goel said.
“It also has risk of life threatening infection in the initial phase of treatment. This drug still can’t be recommended for clinical use pending further clinical trials,” he added.