Doctors may be able to improve outcomes for head and throat cancer patients simply by injecting lidocaine, a common local anesthetic, near the site of the tumor, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2022, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that many head and neck cancers contain T2 receptors and that activation of the protein by bitter compounds causes cell death. They also identified an association between increased T2R activity and better patient outcomes.
In a new study, they found that lidocaine can activate T2R14 – a bitter taste receptor found in high levels in many cancer cells – leading to cell death. “Speaking as a head and neck surgeon, we use lidocaine all the time,” said co-lead researcher Ryan Carey. “We know lidocaine is safe, we are comfortable using it and it is readily available, which means it can be incorporated into other aspects of breast cancer care. head and neck quite calmly.”
This study not only found that lidocaine activates T2R14 to cause cell death, but also identified two mechanisms that enable this activation: mitochondria calcium ion overload.proteasome inhibition and
“We are not suggesting that lidocaine can cure cancer … but it may give us an advantage in the treatment of head and neck cancer.” Carey said.