Research from The Hamner Shows Efficacy of Alternative Method for Delivering Cancer-Fighting Drugs to Lungs

Study is First to Demonstrate Effectiveness of Aspiration Route

Research Triangle Park, NC, June 25, 2011 --( The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences ( has announced that Hamner scientists, with support from the National Cancer Institute, have shown that administering cancer-preventive drugs directly to target lung tissue via aspiration is an effective and inexpensive alternative to the traditional inhalation method. In the study, scientists in The Hamner’s Center for Preclinical Safety and Efficacy demonstrated that Licofelone, a novel analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, was successful in low doses at inhibiting tumor progression in a human surrogate lung cancer model. The findings were published online ahead of print in May by Cancer Prevention Research, and the study is the first of its kind to show that aspiration is an effective alternative for direct delivery of chemopreventive drugs to the lungs.

The Hamner researchers tested the efficacy of nontoxic doses of Licofelone against Benzo(a)pyrene – a key cancer-causing chemical found in tobacco smoke – induced tumors in a human surrogate lung cancer model by a 16-week exposure. In addition to confirming efficacy in treating tumor growth, Licofelone was also shown to have a high correlation to early and late biomarkers of lung cancer progression. Licofelone, a possible breakthrough treatment for osteoarthritis that is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials, has also been shown to be effective against a series of other cancers, including pancreatic cancer.

The results of this study indicate that the aspiration route could be highly useful for assessing potential anticancer drug candidates in the current human surrogate lung tumor model mimicking former or current smokers.

“The aspiration route has direct applicability in humans, as the drug will be delivered by the use of an oral metered inhaler, which uses the same route as the aspiration,” said Dr. Sheela Sharma, lead author on the publication and the director of The Hamner Center for Preclinical Safety and Efficacy. “This method of administration would further reduce the toxicity of the drug – and thus the potential for side effects – as well as increase the overall efficacy of the treatment. Aspiration can be an equally effective route of exposure while reducing the need for inhalation equipment and amount of chemopreventive agent required.”

-The manuscript can be found online by visiting

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About The Center for Preclinical Safety and Efficacy:
The Center for Preclinical Safety and Efficacy evaluates drug efficacy, safety and mechanisms in specialized cancer and other disease models to identify potential preventive and therapeutic agents for human use. The Center also focuses on identification and use of surrogate biomarkers for cancer prognosis and efficacy monitoring of drugs in both preclinical and clinical settings. Current projects include developing or validating new drug delivery technologies for lung as countermeasures for inhaled pathogens or tumors and exploring health effects of nanomaterials and genotoxic agents.

About The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences:
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences is a nonprofit research organization located in the heart of Research Triangle Park (RTP), N.C. The two flagship institutes at The Hamner, the Institute for Chemical Safety Sciences and the Hamner-UNC Institute for Drug Safety Sciences, build upon 35 years of preeminent research in toxicology and human health research to develop and validate new cutting-edge tools for safety assessment. Novel technologies currently being developed include in silico models for predictive toxicology, in vitro models that utilize human cells or cell lines to evaluate perturbations of cellular responses, and in vivo models to elucidate genes that play a role in susceptibility to drug-induced toxicities. The Hamner continues to grow its open, multidisciplinary campus through global partnerships with academia, industry, and government, and remains dedicated to positively impacting human health. For more information, please visit

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