Williams Cancer Institute

DRUGS THAT HELP BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM PART 1

Some drugs have been discovered and they strengthened immunity in different ways, but they have not been considered as part of the treatment against cancer. Nevertheless, by including some of these drugs as part of a patient’s treatment plan, the chances of fighting cancer were significantly improved.

There are several drugs that have achieved amazing results when they have been incorporated into the treatment of patients, some of these drugs are aspirin, sitagliptin —a drug for the treatment of diabetes), and Cialis —a drug for erectile dysfunction. In addition, there are other drugs approved for uses different than cancer and that manage to enhance the immune response.

In its early days, 2,400 years ago, aspirin was used to treat fevers and pain. Its origins can be traced to the common white willow, whose bark and leaves have been used medicinally by Native Americans, ancient Egyptians, and ancient Greeks since the fifth century BC, when Hippocrates first wrote about it. The bark contains a chemical called salicin, which was chemically isolated in the early 19th century. Unfortunately, the pure chemical also caused serious stomach upsets, so it had a limited use. However, towards the end of the 19th century, while working for Bayer Laboratories, the German chemist Felix Hoffman created a synthetic form of the chemical that comes from aspirea, which also has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and it was easier on the stomach. The chemical, acetylsalicylic acid, proved effective in relieving pain, inflammation, and fever. It was by adding an “a” to the world “spiraea” and removing the Latin ending by replacing it with a simple “n” that the name aspirin was born. Aspirin is now one of the most widely used drugs in the world and it is used to treat not only headache, but also arthritis, heart attacks and also cancer.

Aspirin has not changed too much; it has just evolved. Aspirin is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAID is group of drugs that reduce pain and inflammation and have even been shown to help reduce colorectal cancer.

Along with aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen (brand name Aleve) are among the NSAIDs, which work by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme’s cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2).

Studies have shown that combining immune checkpoint inhibitors with aspirin can reverse the tumor’s ability to evade the immune response.

It is hard to get an exact picture of how NSAID treatment would impact survival, but if you make a rough estimate based on information from the American Cancer Society that 40,000 American women will die of breast cancer, 6% could mean up to 2,500 lives that are saved each year only in the United States. Similarly, especially for breast cancer patients, it is important to understand the importance of ketorolac for a biopsy. There are no good studies on this subject, and in cases where the cancer has spread, sometimes surgery is to blame, this is due to increased growth factors being released.

Similar studies have not been done on the effectiveness of injecting aspirin directly into tumors, perhaps because while intravenous aspirin is fairly common in Europe, the FDA has not approved aspirin for intravenous use in the United States. However, a study has shown that intravenous aspirin is effective in treating migraines. In addition, the injection of aspirin is the most effective route, although if it is administered orally, it is recommended to take two doses of 325mg each morning and each night.

Despite its effectiveness, aspirin is not appropriate for all patients. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, rashes, and kidney damage. Furthermore, aspirin can worsen asthma and cause internal bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain, as well as increase the risk of a perforated ulcer. Children and adolescents should not take aspirin, as there is a risk of developing Reye’s Syndrome, which affects the brain and liver. According to the aforementioned, it is recommended to take high doses of aspirin as part of a cancer treatment, only under the direction and supervision of a doctor. It is not recommended to self-medicate.

References: 

Williams, J. (2019, 15th October) The Immunotherapy Revolution. Pg 102-106

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