A new cancer drug used to combat oral cancer, called Capsazepine shows great promise. This drug not only kills the cancer cells, but also spares the healthy cells from damage. Most other cancer drugs kill both the cancer cells and fast growing normal body cells. If the name looks familiar, it’s a synthetic chemical cousin to capsaicin, the chemical that makes chilies hot.
Oral cancer often isn’t caught early. For example, 75% of patients come in with advanced oral cancer, leading to a 5 year survival rate of only 40%. So this new drug option, offers new hope for these patients.
In order to develop even strong versions (or what’s called analogs) of Capsazepine, researchers tested out 30 new chemical versions on cancer cell cultures. They discovered a compound called CIDD99 that not only killed the cancer cells, spared healthy cells, but also made the cancer cells more vulnerable to traditional chemotherapy drugs. This enhance vulnerability means doctors can administer lower doses of the more toxic traditional chemotherapy drugs - all while patients experience fewer side effects.
Further research on CIDD99 also showed effectiveness against triple negative breast cancer, prostate cancer, and non-small-cell lung cancer.