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α-Cobratoxin May Be Treatment for Lung Cancer

Last Updated: June 15, 2009.

In a mouse model of advanced non-small cell lung cancer, treatment with the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist α-cobratoxin was associated with improved survival, according to research published in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

MONDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- In a mouse model of advanced non-small cell lung cancer, treatment with the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist α-cobratoxin (α-CbT) was associated with improved survival, according to research published in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Laura Paleari, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Research Institute in Genoa, Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient mice, in which human non-small cell lung cancer cells were grafted into the lungs. To replicate the clinical setting of lung cancer in humans, the animals were treated after the tumors were established. The mice received α-CbT or cisplatin, or were left untreated as controls.

The researchers found that α-CbT increased median survival by 1.7-fold compared to cisplatin treatment, and 2.1-fold compared to untreated controls. In α-CbT treated mice, the increased life span was 80 and 93 percent higher than in these groups, respectively. The improved survival in treated animals was likely due to a variety of antiproliferative and antiangiogenic effects, the researchers write.

"Just as tamoxifen is now widely used for breast cancer chemotherapy, the potential for nicotinic receptor antagonists to be used for lung cancer treatment seems promising," writes the author of an accompanying editorial. "It is also important to consider that although nicotine and nicotinic receptors are now clearly linked to lung cancer, nicotine replacement therapy used for smoking cessation appears to be safer than continued smoking."

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