Each year approximately 40,000 patients in the United States are diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma, which is the eighth most common cancer, and the disease will cause 8,000 deaths annually.
About 60% of patients have large tumors before they seek medical help, which results in a 30% survival rate 5 years after diagnosis. According to a study published in Oral Oncology, capsazepine has been shown to shrink oral cancers without harming healthy surrounding tissue. First author Cara B. Gonzales, DDS, PhD, and researchers at the School of Dentistry and School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center developed capsazepine as an agent to block TRPV1, which is a calcium channel in neurons. TRPV1 sends pain signals to the brain when stimulated.
Since capsazepine hinders tumor-secreted factors from stimulating TRPV1k , researchers believed the agent could reduce oral cancer pain. After they conducted their study, researchers found that capsazepine demonstrated anti-cancer activity as well, which may be linked to its capacity to increase oxidative tumor damage.
Researchers suspect that enhanced oxidative stress created by capsazepine causes apoptosis, or cell death, in tumor cells. Gonzales said the next step is to test how the new therapy fares against metastatic disease.
Mouse models of human oral cancer treated with an agent called capsazepine showed dramatic tumor shrinkage without damage to surrounding tissues, researchers from the School of Dentistry and School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found. “These tumors develop primarily on the side of the tongue,” said study first author Cara B.