Do you remember when the U.S. FDA pulled the COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx (rofecoxib) from the market in 2004? There was a great deal of confusion at the time because the increased cardiovascular risks seemed not only to apply to COX-2 inhibitors, but also to traditional NSAIDs. When all was said and done, in 2005, the FDA took these actions.
Researchers from Imperial College London's Faculty of Medicine have just announced that they now know where the effect of COX-2 inhibitors takes place in the body. In their study, using mice, researchers found that the COX-2 enzyme is found in the brain, gut, kidney, and thymus gland -- not so much in major blood vessels of the body. Previously, the cardiovascular risk associated with COX-2 inhibitors was attributed to COX-2 being found in the blood vessels. If the results can be duplicated in humans, researchers will better understand how COX-2 affects the cardiovascular system and the intent is to develop more targeted arthritis drugs that would essentially make COX-2 inhibitors safer. The process won't be quick though -- perhaps taking 5 to 10 years or more.
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