Researchers found that combining a common drug for diabetes and a high blood pressure medication could possibly treat cancer. The researchers reported that this drug combination helped target specific cancer cells. One of the drugs is metformin, which is commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes and has been well known to have some anti-cancer properties. When used alone, it’s not enough to actually combat cancer cells. However, when combined with syrosingopine, an antihypertensive drug, metformin’s anti-cancer effect seems to augment, causing cancer cells to die.
First author Don Benjamin explained, “For example, in samples from leukemia patients, we demonstrated that almost all tumor cells were killed by this cocktail and at doses that are actually not toxic to normal cells. And the effect was exclusively confined to cancer cells, as the blood cells from healthy donors were insensitive to the treatment.”
In their study on mice with liver cancer, the researchers found that the drug combination helped reduce the size of the tumor in some mice, while in others the tumor disappeared completely. The researchers found that metformin helps block the respiratory chain in the energy factories of the cell and syrosingopine inhibits the breakdown of sugars. In other words, these drugs work together to stop the processes that are crucial for the production of energy in tumor cells. This is particularly detrimental, as this type of cells is characterized by rapid growth and, therefore, has greater energy demands. As a results, these cells become very vulnerable.
Benjamin added, “We have been able to show that the two known drugs lead to more profound effects on cancer cell proliferation than each drug alone. The data from this study support the development of combination approaches for the treatment of cancer patients.”
The results of the present study may inform future clinical use of combination therapy targeting the energy supply of cancer cells.
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