Biotechnology cancer Pharmaceuticals

UTHealth’s Lenard Lichtenberger Tests Effectiveness of Lipidic Aspirin Formulation Against Cancer

Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) are testing the effectiveness of a soy-enriched aspirin formulation designed to fight colorectal cancer with fewer side effects.

Lenard Lichtenberger, Ph.D., professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, is the principal investigator for the preclinical study funded with a $1.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The grant was awarded to PLx Pharma Inc., the specialty pharmaceutical company developing this new form of aspirin.

While aspirin reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, daily use can cause ulcers and stomach bleeding. Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States claiming more than 50,000 lives in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First synthesized more than a century ago and hailed as a wonder drug, aspirin has been long known to reduce a person’s likelihood of heart disease and stroke. But, the research into its cancer protection benefits is relatively new.

For example, a popular medical search engine (PubMed) has less than 100 entries for the words aspirin and cancer between 1971 and 1974 compared to more than 4,000 since 2011.

The research into the chemopreventive action of aspirin is so conclusive that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people between the ages of 50 and 69 take low-dose aspirin on a daily basis to prevent colorectal  cancer so long as they consult with their physician first.