Noscapine Cough Syrup Ingredient Studied Further for Prostate Cancer Treatment

Noscapine, an ingredient found in over the counter cough syrups, is again being studied as a treatment for prostate cancer. Researchers injected mice with prostate cancer cells. A group that was pretreated with noscapine were found to have smaller prostate cancer tumors, making the drug a promising treatment for preventing prostate cancer recurrence.

The study authors write, "Pre-treatment with noscapine confers a significant benefit compared with control in both primary tumor growth and primary tumor growth- inhibition rate and exhibits an extremely favorable tolerability profile." Dr. Barken, Founder and Medical Director of the Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation (PCREF) in San Diego, California, said: "PCREF is now seeking sponsorship for clinical data collection in post-surgery patients who are at high-risk of recurrence for their prostate cancer."

Prostate cancer kills 28000 men each year. Noscapine, conclude the authors, could offer a safe and effective way to prevent prostate cancer recurrence for men at high risk.

Noscapine, a non-addictive derivative of opium, is being explored further as a way to prevent recurrence of prostate cancer in men who have undergone cancer treatment.

"Based on our research so far, we believe that noscapine could be a very promising treatment to prevent recurrence in such cases due to its excellent safety record and oral bioavailability." The incidence of metastasis to the lungs was 80 percent lower in mice injected with the cough syrup ingredient, and the mice injected with prostate cancer cells experienced no weight loss compared to those not treated with noscapine.

The researchers say noscapine is a drug that needs to be further explored for prostate cancer treatment, pointing out there are "many effective treatments for this and other diseases can be selected from the vast armory of existing off-patent and unpromoted drugs."

Noscapine was first studied in the 1960's as an anti-cancer agent. It has been used in cough syrups since the 1950's. Only recently has noscapine been re-examined for it's potential role in cancer prevention. The new study shows noscapine could be a valuable for preventing prostate cancer recurrence after treatment for the disease.

Barken I et al. Anticancer Research 2010 Mar; 30(2): 399-402