A team of scientists at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center published a research paper showing that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) called ketorolac helped women with ovarian cancer to survive longer.
Ovarian cancer has no symptoms. Often, it is discovered only after it has spread to other organs. Fewer than half of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are still alive five years later. This survival rate has not changed much in the last 20 years.
Ketorolac, marketed as Toradol®, is approved for clinical use in the United States for pain after surgery. The drug is given as an equal mixture of S-ketorolac and R-ketorolac. The R- and S-ketorolac have the same chemical formula but, like right and left hands, they are mirror images of each other in three dimensions.
The new research tested the equal mixture of R- and S-ketorolac in women with ovarian cancer. The research demonstrated that when ketorolac is injected into the bloodstream, the body removes S-ketorolac more rapidly and allows R-ketorolac to move to and gather in the peritoneal cavity.
The peritoneal cavity contains the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the surfaces of other organs where ovarian cancer starts and grows. In gathering here, the R-ketorolac is ready to turn off the GTPases that increase the tumor cells’ ability to grow and spread. GTPases are like molecular switches inside cells. The GTPases that control cellular growth and spread are more active in cancer cells, making them important drug targets for cancer.
The scientists also studied the medical records of women who underwent ovarian cancer surgery between 2004 and 2006. They found that after five years, women who had received ketorolac after surgery to ease their pain were more likely to have survived their cancer.
The scientists are planning a series of human clinical trials to better understand how ketorolac works in women after ovarian cancer surgery.
Authors of the paper are: Yuna Guo, S. Ray Kenney, Linda Cook, Sarah F. Adams, Teresa Rutledge, Elsa Romer, Tudor I. Oprea, Larry A. Sklar, Edward Bedrick, Charles L. Wiggins, Huining Kang, Lesley Lomo, Carolyn Y. Muller, Angela Wandinger-Ness, Laurie G. Hudson.
The paper “A novel pharmacologic activity of ketorolac for therapeutic benefit in ovarian cancer patients” was published in the June 12, 2015 online edition of Clinical Cancer Research (clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
Watch the interview with Dr. Wandinger-Ness and Dr. Hudson on "The Morning Brew."
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