Aspirin's Protective Mechanism Explained

First Posted: Sep 10, 2016 04:50 AM EDT

Aspirin has always been known to reduce the risk of both cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Though these characteristics remain to be puzzling, this easy to reach medicine has always been found in home cabinets for many years. Now, researchers at Duke Health were able to identify a new mechanism of the drug that would help explain the drug's different benefits.

Medical Xpress wrote that the study, published in the journal EBioMedicine, found how aspirin directly affects the function of a gene regulatory protein that controls the platelets, as well as suppress tumor growth in the colon.

"This research identifies a new way in which aspirin works that was not predicted based on the known pharmacology," according to lead author Deepak Voora, M.D., assistant professor in Duke's Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine. Voora said aspirin's pain-reducing and blood thinning powers have long been traced to its ability to block COX-1, an enzyme involved in both inflammation and blood clotting. "But COX-1 has only partially explained how aspirin works for cardiovascular health," he said, "and it has not been shown to be implicated in cancer at all."

According to Eurekalert, Voora and colleagues concentrated on a pattern of gene activity they call an aspirin response signature which the team previously developed. This signature discovered a network of genes that was found to also be connected to platelet function and heart attack.

"This approach to comprehensively evaluate the actions of a drug using genomic data -- as we have done here with aspirin -- is a paradigm shift that could change how drugs are developed and positioned for clinical use, said co-author Geoffrey Ginsburg, M.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine. "We intend to use this approach to explore the pleiotropic effects of drugs more broadly to anticipate their side effects and understand their full repertoire of actions clinically," reported cardiovascular business.

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