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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Nov 24, 2023  3 months, 19 hours, 28 minutes ago

Cancer News: University of Pennsylvania Scientists Discover That Lidocaine Is Able To Kill Cancer Cells And Can Be Used To Treat Head And Neck Cancers!

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Cancer News: University of Pennsylvania Scientists Discover That Lidocaine Is Able To Kill Cancer Cells And Can Be Used To Treat Head And Neck Cancers!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Nov 24, 2023  3 months, 19 hours, 28 minutes ago
Cancer News: In a revolutionary breakthrough, scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have unearthed the potential of lidocaine, a widely used numbing agent, as a formidable weapon against cancer cells. Their groundbreaking preclinical study unravels the intricate mechanism by which lidocaine activates bitter taste receptors, specifically T2R14, leading to apoptosis and subsequent death of cancer cells. This discovery not only sheds light on the previously unknown anti-cancer properties of lidocaine but also paves the way for clinical trials to explore its integration into standard therapy for head and neck cancers.

It was also noted that previous Cancer News reports in April 2023 had covered a multi-institutional randomized clinical trial that found that breast cancer survival increased when lidocaine was administered before surgery.
The Mechanism of Action
Drs Robert Lee and Ryan Carey, alongside Pharmacology graduate student Zoey Miller, spearheaded the research that uncovered lidocaine's unique ability to activate T2R14. The study delineates two distinct mechanisms through which lidocaine initiates the process of apoptosis in cancer cells: mitochondrial calcium ion overload and proteasome inhibition. By specifically targeting T2R14, lidocaine induces reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage biomolecules, ultimately resulting in the death of cancer cells. These findings build upon previous research demonstrating the presence of bitter taste receptors in oral and throat cancer cells, where their activation triggers apoptosis, correlating with improved survival outcomes in head and neck cancer patients.
Dr Lee commented, "We've been following this line of research for years but were surprised to find that lidocaine targets the one receptor that happened to be most highly expressed across cancers. T2R14 is found in cells throughout the body. What's incredibly exciting is that a lot of existing drugs activate it, so there could be additional opportunities to think about repurposing other drugs that could safely target this receptor."

While T2R14 helps the body perceive bitter taste in the mouth, the function of the receptor in other cells throughout the body is unclear. Lidocaine is typically injected into the skin or other tissues to prevent pain by blocking nerve signals and could easily be directly injected near or around accessible oral tumors.
Clinical Implications
The implications of this study are profound for clinical practice, offering a potential game-changer in the treatment of head and neck cancers. Lidocaine, a familiar tool in outpatient medical procedures, emerges as a promising addition to the standard care arsenal for cancer patients. As a local anesthetic routinely used by head and neck surgeons, lidocaine's safety and accessibility make it a viable candidate for integration into cancer care. The prospect of direct injection of lidocaine near or around accessible oral tumors presents a practical and straightforward approach to its application in cancer treatment.
Future Prospects
While the researchers acknowledge that lidocaine may not be a panacea for cancer, its potential to enhance the efficacy of head and neck cancer treatment is encouraging. Dr Carey underscores the need to explore lidocaine's effectiveness in HPV-associated HNSCCs, which now dominate the landscape of head and neck cancers.
Dr Carey added, "Speaking as a head and neck surgeon, we use lidocaine all the time. We know lidocaine is safe, we're comfortable using it, and it's readily available, which means it could be incorporated into other aspects of head and neck cancer care fairly seamlessly."
Plans for a clinical trial at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center are underway, aiming to investigate lidocaine's impact on this particular subtype of HNSCC. The study envisions a future where lidocaine, and potentially other drugs activating T2R14, could be repurposed to target this receptor, providing improved treatment options for these challenging forms of cancer.
Unlocking the Mystery
The study not only showcases lidocaine's potential as a cancer-fighting agent but also unravels the mystery of how lidocaine, among numerous anesthetics, triggers apoptosis in cancer cells. The interaction between lidocaine and endogenous T2R14 in HNSCC cells reveals a novel link between bitter taste receptors, lidocaine, and the induction of cancer cell death. Lidocaine's unique potency in activating T2R14, compared to other T2R agonists, highlights a distinctive mechanism of action, further adding to the significance of this discovery.
With head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) presenting a significant challenge with high mortality rates, there is an urgent need for effective and minimally invasive therapies. The study proposes bitter taste receptors, specifically T2Rs, as attractive targets for existing clinical compounds such as lidocaine. The accessibility of mucosal sites affected by HNSCCs positions lidocaine, administered as a topical gel or through local injection, as a feasible option for anticancer therapy. The study suggests that lidocaine's ability to activate T2R14 and induce apoptosis in cancer cells provides a promising avenue for further exploration.
Exploring the Potential
In addition to its potential application in HNSCCs, the researchers note that T2R14 is elevated in various cancer cells across the body. This discovery opens up possibilities for repurposing existing drugs that activate T2R14, broadening the scope of therapeutic options for different cancer types. The multifaceted nature of bitter taste receptors, beyond their role in taste perception, introduces a new dimension to drug repurposing strategies.

In conclusion, the discovery of lidocaine's ability to activate bitter taste receptors, particularly T2R14, and induce apoptosis in cancer cells marks a significant paradigm shift in cancer treatment. The potential integration of lidocaine into standard care, coupled with its safety profile and widespread availability, heralds a new era in the fight against head and neck cancers. Ongoing research and planned clinical trials underscore the urgency and importance of exploring innovative approaches to enhance cancer treatment, offering hope to those facing the challenges of head and neck cancers. The journey from a routine numbing agent to a potential anticancer powerhouse highlights the transformative power of scientific inquiry and the potential for existing drugs to be repurposed for novel therapeutic applications
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Cell Reports.
For the latest Cancer News, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.


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