New research from the North Carolina A&T State University at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC confirmed that a patented, resveratrol-based prodrug reduces aspirin side effects and enhances the anti-cancer properties of both aspirin and resveratrol.
Aspirin is recognized as the over-the-counter-drug for pain and fever relief and the prevention of cardiovascular disease, and, according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, may be the next phenomenon in colon cancer prevention. For all the ailments this medicine treats, it has a huge drawback; namely, side effects as serious as an increased risk for stomach bleeds.
Shengmin Sang, PhD, a professor of functional foods with the North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T) Center for Excellence in Post-harvest Technologies at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), combined the bioactive compound resveratrol with aspirin to create a new class of prodrugs, which are drugs that become completely pharmacologically active as they are metabolized.
Sang’s patented approach reduces the side effects of aspirin and enhances anti-cancer effects of both aspirin and resveratrol. His findings were reported in the study “Novel Resveratrol-based Aspirin Prodrugs: Synthesis, Metabolism and Anticancer Activity” published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
Sang researches natural compounds in tea, ginger and wheat bran as potential preventive measures for colon cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States. Because of his expertise, he recognized the similarities between aspirin and resveratrol, an antioxidant, polyphenol found in foods like grapes, blueberries and cranberries. Research has proven that both aspirin and resveratrol are anti-inflammatory and have anti-cancer properties, but resveratrol does not have gastric side effects. In fact, research on resveratrol found it to be an effective treatment for peptic ulcers because it protects the stomach lining against the damaging effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Sang emphasizes that his patent goes beyond mixing aspirin and resveratrol. “We bind them together,” he said. “The conjugation or chemical reaction covers the acid group present to avoid direct contact of acid with the stomach and makes them more potent together than if we just combined the two agents.”
Sang found resveratrol-based aspirin derivatives survived the acidity of the stomach and traveled to the small intestine where the resveratrol and the metabolite salicylic acid exerted anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. He found intact molecules of resveratrol and resveratrol-based derivatives in the colon that demonstrated anti-proliferative and chemopreventive effects against cancer cells.
Sang is researching the effectiveness of other natural compounds as part of his goal to develop his new class of prodrugs into a marketable product.
“With the recommendation pending for low-doses of aspirin to be used to prevent colon cancer and its widespread use to prevent heart disease, it is important that the dangerous side effects are counteracted,” Sang said. “Our approach provides a safe and inexpensive alternative approach.”
Learn more about NC A&T’s research at the NC Research Campus.