A recent study suggests that the drug “lidocaine” – used as a local anesthetic during dental treatments and for patients requiring medical procedures in outpatient clinics – may cause cancer cells to die.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and its results were published incell report“(Cell Reports), which reported on this”York Alert(EurekAlert) End of November.
Lidocaine was expected to be beneficial in treating cancer, but its mechanism was not known until a team of researchers studied the drug’s effects in experimental animals. The study paves the way for the drug to enter the clinical stage, where it is studied in humans, and explores its effects when used with drugs commonly used to treat head and neck cancer.
bitter taste receptors
The researchers found that lidocaine stimulates bitter taste receptors called T2R14, and when these receptors are stimulated, the process of programmed cell death begins.
The specific mechanism by which lidocaine activates the T2R14 receptor is to increase the load of calcium ions on mitochondria (mitochondria are the energy generators in cells), resulting in an increase in oxygen-reactive species, leading to cell damage. The drug also inhibits the proteasome, an enzyme that regulates the work of proteins responsible for the life cycle of cells and their controlled death.
A previous study by the team showed that “bitter” receptors are widely present in cancer cells that cause mouth and throat cancer. These receptors stimulate programmed cell death. Increasing the number of these receptors is associated with improved survival in patients with neck and head cancer.
Last April, results from a trial in breast cancer patients were released, finding that those who took lidocaine before surgery had improved health.
Study leader Dr. Robert Lee said they were surprised that lidocaine acted on the most common receptor found in cancer cells. He added that the T2R14 receptor can be stimulated by many existing drugs, giving researchers an opportunity to rethink the safe use of these drugs targeting this receptor.
The T2R14 receptor helps the body taste bitter tastes, but its function in other cells in the body is unclear. Lidocaine is injected into the skin or other tissue to prevent pain by blocking nerve signals, and it may be easier to inject directly near palpable oral tumors.
Researcher Dr. Ryan Carey said their use of lidocaine was comfortable, consistent and safe because it was readily available, meaning it could be seamlessly integrated into other aspects of head and neck cancer treatment.
The study, conducted on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells, also found that increased T2R14 receptors are associated with human papillomavirus, the main type of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Based on these results, Carey plans to clinically test lidocaine in patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Carey noted that they don’t believe lidocaine can cure cancer, but they are motivated by the potential to improve treatment options for difficult types of head and neck cancer in advanced stages of this cancer’s treatment.
What is head and neck cancer?
cancer Head and neck are malignant tumors that appear in these parts of the body. Head and neck cancers include tumors affecting the supraclavicular area and are divided into 3 main categories:
Cancer cells usually start in the sinuses, salivary glands, mouth, nose and throat.
Cancerous tumors of the head and neck are characterized by a higher incidence in men than women because men are three times more likely to be exposed to these infections than women, and those most vulnerable to these tumors are those in their fifties. age.
Symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer cells in the head or neck and may include:
- Painful tumors or ulcers in the mouth that do not heal.
- Difficulty swallowing and voice changes.
- In some cases, head and neck cancers present with some early symptoms, which increases the chances of detecting the disease early and getting effective treatment, but unfortunately, most cancers are not diagnosed until they are in an advanced stage, which makes treating them more difficult.
Factors that increase the risk of head and neck cancer include: