Painkiller's ulcerous trail

By Biplab Das
Published: Sunday 15 February 2009

HST-1 helps manage side-effects of cancer treatment

an antioxidant called resveratrol, found in plants like grapes, peanuts, spruce, lily and mulberries, is known to be a good anticancer agent but it decelerates ulcer healing. Cancer patients are given pain killers that cause ulcers as side-effects. Hence resveratrol cannot be given to cancer patients with gastric ulcers. To do away with this limitation, a research team from Kolkata has synthesized a novel anti-cancer compound that is structurally similar to resveratrol and does not disrupt the ulcer healing process.

A team led by researchers from Kolkata's B C Roy Institute of Basic Medical Sciences and Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Anthropological Survey of India and Bio-Organic Division at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, synthesized several substances structurally similar to resveratrol. While doing it, they hit upon a novel compound called hst-1. This drug inhibited the growth of two types of human blood cancer cells and didn't have the drawback of resveratrol.

To test the efficacy of hst-1 against ulcers, the researchers fed mice with indomethacin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller, to cause ulcers in their stomachs. These mice then received either resveratrol or hst-1 and were compared with ulcerated untreated mice.

"hst-1 accelerated the healing of the ulcers along with showing strong anticancer properties similar to that of resveratrol," said lead researcher Sandip K Bandyopadhyay. In an ulcerated condition, the activity of the enzyme myeloperoxidase (mpo) increases at the site of inflammation, blocking the healing process. There was a marked reduction in the activity of mpo in hst-1 treated mice compared to the ulcerated untreated and resveratrol-treated mice, confirming its ulcer-healing potency. They found that resveratrol also suppressed the activity of cyclooxygenase-1 (cox-1), an enzyme that aids in the synthesis of prostaglandin E2 which protects the inner lining of the stomach from acid attack. hst-1 did not inhibit the activity of cox-1.

The researchers exposed hst-1 and resveratrol to cultured cells of two types of human blood cancers for two days. When it came to driving the cancer cells to commit mass suicide, hst-1 proved more effective than resveratrol. The study was published in the December 9 issue of Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics.

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