Study offers insight into how aspirin lowers risk of colon cancer and cardiovascular disease
The use of aspirin for pain relief can be traced back to the end of the 19th century, or perhaps the beginning of the 20th century, an interesting story in its own right. Later, aspirin was found to have the unintended, albeit beneficial, effect of lowering the risk of both colon cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers were able to trace its ability to reduce pain to its ability to block an enzyme called COX-1, which is involved in inflammation and blood clotting. But COX-1 only partially explained its benefits for cardiovascular health, and had no known linkage to cancer, cardiologist Deepak Voora, MD, commented in a recent Duke Medicine news release.
Now, Voora has led a team that identified a network of genes activated by aspirin. Some of these genes have been correlated with the likelihood of heart attacks and with the severity of colon cancer. The news release further describes the work and quotes the study authors:
‘This approach to comprehensively evaluate the actions of a drug using genomic data — as we have done here with aspirin — is a paradigm shift that could change how drugs are developed and positioned for clinical use,’ said co-author Geoffrey Ginsburg, MD, director of the Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine. ‘We intend to use this approach to explore the pleiotropic effects of drugs more broadly to anticipate their side effects and understand their full repertoire of actions clinically.’