Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Your Mouthwash Might Fight Cancer

Medical Science

An article, by  Ashutosh Jogalekar, in Scientific American looks at a study that says everyday mouthwash might be an effective agent in fighting cancer. Chlorhexidinethe anti-bacterial and plaque-fighting ingredient, common to mouthwashes, suppresses the growth of cancer in the mouth by blocking an interaction between proteins.

Jogalekar writes:
Apoptosis or programmed cell death is one of the great truths of cellular life, an essential process that’s not only required to make way for new cells but to prevent old cells from going haywire. When cells circumvent this great truth they start dividing uncontrollably and contribute to cancer. Our knowledge of cancer over the last three decades has confirmed the central role that a breakdown in the usual mechanisms of apoptosis plays in pushing a cell across the tipping point into a cancerous state. Of the many strategies to fight cancer, one consists of trying to find drugs that force cells to regain their normal balance of apoptosis. Now this effort may have found an unlikely ally.
Chlorhexidine is an antibacterial and plaque-fighting compound that is a common component of mouthwash, usually present as a 0.1% or 0.2% solution. In a paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, scientists in Germany report an unexpected effect of chlorhexidine and its related cousin alexidine: they inhibit cancer cells in the mouth by blocking an important protein-protein interaction. This research opens up new directions in investigating this class of compounds as anticancer agents and also sheds light on the value of finding novel potential uses for everyday chemical compounds. One of the great advantages in this endeavor is that the “repurposed” compounds have already run the gauntlet of safety tests required by the FDA, potentially shortening the period of approval for their new uses.
Again, good news coming out of scientific study. This shows that everyday products might have other uses, or as Jogalekar puts it. "Nature is much more interesting than we think and molecules often lead double lives." It would seem that scientific investigation will take a number of tracks in the future, including seeing how everyday products and chemical compounds can be re-purpsed for medical uses in humanity's battle against diseases.

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You can read the rest of the article at [ScientAmer]