Aggressive cancers ‘could respond to anti-inflammatory drugs’

30 June 2014

Some patients with aggressive forms of cancer could benefit from anti-inflammatory drugs that are traditionally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, according to research from Washington University, St Louis.

Scientists studying triple-negative breast cancer discovered that some aggressive tumours rely on an antiviral pathway that seems to drive inflammation, which are recognised as factors in cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Tumours that activate this particular pathway have dysfunctional forms of the proteins p53 and ARF, which are both encoded by genes known for being highly mutated in several types of cancer.

Researchers discovered that the genes compensate for each other, meaning if both are mutated the tumours become more aggressive compared to if only one was lost. 

If both are lost, the antiviral pathway is activated meaning patients could benefit from anti-inflammatory drugs called JAK inhibitors, which are currently prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Jason D Weber, senior author of the study, said: “There are JAK inhibitors in use for rheumatoid arthritis and being tested against a number of other conditions. Our data suggest that these anti-inflammatory drugs may be a way to treat some patients missing both p53 and ARF.”

Posted by Edward Bartel

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...



© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)