Capsaicin analog could help treatment-resistant lung cancer

Lung CA seen on CXR. Photo credit: James Heilman, MD / Wikipedia

A new study found that the non-sharp synthetic analogue of capsaicin – the compound that makes chili peppers hot – small cell lung cancer cells respond better to treatment. Small cell lung cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer with a low survival rate.

Cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy is usually the initial treatment for patients with small cell lung cancer. Although patients respond well to this chemotherapy initially, the tumor usually comes back in a form that is unresponsive to treatment within a year. Patients with relapsed small cell lung cancer have very few treatment options.

“Irinotecan is the only FDA-approved second-line drug for small cell lung cancer, but fewer than 3% of patients respond to it,” said research team leader Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D., of Marshall University. “Therefore, drugs that improve the anticancer activity of irinotecan would be of great value to these patients.”

Jamie Friedman, a former graduate student at Dasgupta’s laboratory, will present the new findings at the American Society for Investigative Pathology’s annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 virtual meeting, April 27-30.

The natural compound capsaicin has been shown to have cancer-fighting effects, but its heat can also cause a burning sensation, stomach cramps, bowel pain, and nausea. In the new work, researchers looked at Arvanil, a synthetic capsaicin analog without the undesirable side effects of capsaicin.

When the researchers exposed two cisplatin-resistant lung cancer cell lines to a low concentration of Arvanil, they saw no growth-inhibiting activity. However, when they treated the cells with varying concentrations of SN38 – the active ingredient irinotecan – they observed that the presence of Arvanil greatly enhanced SN38’s ability to slow the growth of cancer cells. Statistical analysis showed that the interaction between Arvanil and SN38 was synergistic in nature.

“Because Arvanil increases the anticancer activity of SN38 in human small cell lung cancer cells, Arvanil-based combination therapies may be useful for patients with relapsed small cell lung cancer cells,” Friedman said. “We hope this work will pave the way for novel therapies in relapsed and cisplatin-resistant small cell lung cancer.”

Spicy combination of chili peppers slows the progression of lung cancer

More information:
Jamie Friedman will present the results in Poster R361 (Executive Summary).

Provided by Experimental Biology

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