PARIS - The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a grant to the American Health Foundation (AHF) to finance a study into the effectiveness of several nitric oxide-releasing drugs developed by NicOx S.A. in the chemoprevention of colon cancer.

The two-year study will use a well-established animal tumor model of colon carcinogenesis to determine whether NCX-4016, a nitric oxide-releasing aspirin derivative, and other derivatives of acetylsalicylates and NO-NSAIDs (nitric oxide-releasing non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) are effective in preventing the development of colon cancer in rats.

In the first instance, it will evaluate the effect of NO-NSAIDs on the formation of foci of aberrant crypts in the colons of rats (aberrant crypt foci being the earliest detectable neoplastic lesion in the colon). In a second stage, the effect of NO-NSAIDs on the formation of colon tumors will be tested.

One of the investigators to whom the NIH grant was awarded, Basil Rigas, professor of medicine at the Valhalla, N.Y.-based AHF and adjunct professor at Rockefeller University, pointed out that animal studies had confirmed the "combination of safety and superior efficacy" of NO-NSAIDs and added that if this was borne out by human studies, it would make these compounds "nearly ideal chemopreventive agents for colon cancer, one of the commonest fatal malignancies in the Western world."

At the outset, cancer was not one of the primary pathologies targeted by NicOx, which is based in Sophia-Antipolis, and is developing a variety of NO-releasing drugs for the treatment of diseases such as pain, thrombosis, urinary incontinence, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and Alzheimer's disease. But the company's CEO, Michele Garufi, welcomed the NIH grant as confirmation of the "high level of scientific interest and the significant potential of our patented NO-releasing NSAIDs in cancer prevention."

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