Anyone who has seen a commercial for the popular drug Celebrex knows of its effectiveness in osteoarthritis, a disease characterized by bone damage, chronic pain, and decreased range of motion. The drug’s mechanism of action involves selective inhibition of COX-2 receptors, which cause inflammation in the body (1). However, this condition is not the only one that can come about when COX-2 receptors are overexpressed. Recent research has shown that COX-2 activity is correlated with increased risk of colorectal cancers, and that using drugs such as Celebrex can significantly decrease the risk of additional polyp formation in patients who have had colon cancer in the past (2). Previous treatments for colorectal polyps had involved compounds with harmful gastrointestinal side effects. Though Celebrex is not risk-free and carries with it some chance of adverse cardiovascular reactions, the discovery of its repurposed use has been a significant milestone in colon cancer research.
2. Arber N., Eagle C.J., Spicak J., Racz I., Dite P., Hajer J., Zavoral M., Lechuga M.J., Gerletti P., Tang J., Rosenstein R.B., Macdonald K., Bhadra P., Fowler R., Wittes J., Zauber A.G., Solomon S.D., and Levin, B (2011). Celecoxib for the prevention of colorectal adenomatous polyps. New England Journal of Medicine 355(9): 885-895. [Link here]