Drug combo may fight prostate cancer

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Combining two widely prescribed medications — the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex) and the cholesterol-lowering statin drug atorvastatin (Lipitor) — may help stop the progression of prostate cancer, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in April 2008. But don’t ask your doctor for prescriptions just yet: the research was conducted in mice.

Researchers aimed to delay the progression of androgen-dependent tumors, which rely on male hormones to grow, to androgen-independent tumors, which no longer respond to hormone therapy. To do so, they shrank prostate tumors in mice by depriving the animals of androgens. The mice were then divided into four groups: one group received atorvastatin; the second, celecoxib; the third, both drugs; and the fourth, no medications at all. Tumors began to regrow within two weeks in the mice that didn’t receive any drugs. In contrast, all three drug regimens slowed tumor growth, with the combination packing the biggest punch.

Although researchers said they weren’t sure why Lipitor and Celebrex have this effect on prostate tumors, they are planning a study in prostate cancer patients.

SOURCE: Zheng X, Cui XX, Huang MT, et al. Inhibition of Androgen-Independent Growth of LNCaP Xenograft Tumors in Immunodeficient Mice by a Combination of Atorvastatin (Lipitor) and Celecoxib (Celebrex). Proceedings of the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research 2008; abstract 2100.

Originally published July 1, 2008; last reviewed April 7, 2011.

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