In a new study that tested various medicines on hundreds of cancer cell lines, researchers discovered non-oncology drugs that could help kill cancer cells. The study was conducted by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The team claims drugs used to treat inflammation, diabetes and alcoholism could also help kill cancer cells in tests conducted in the lab.
Close to 50 of the thousands of drugs tested in the study were reportedly not recognized for having anti-cancer activity in the past. The study's findings suggest it could be possible to repurpose existing drugs to tackle cancer and develop better treatment options for the disease.
"We thought we'd be lucky if we found even a single compound with anti-cancer properties, but we were surprised to find so many," Todd Golub, chief scientific officer and director of the Cancer Program at the Broad, Charles A. Dana Investigator in Human Cancer Genetics at Dana-Farber, and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, told a news portal.
Previous research has found the use of current medicines that could help other health issues. Some studies revealed aspirin could help tackle cardiovascular issues. "We created the repurposing hub to enable researchers to make these kinds of serendipitous discoveries in a more deliberate way," study first author Steven Corsello, an oncologist at Dana-Farber, a member of the Golub lab, and founder of the Drug Repurposing Hub, told a news portal.
Researchers were also surprised to discover the ways these compounds could kill cancer cells. "Most existing cancer drugs work by blocking proteins, but we're finding that compounds can act through other mechanisms," Corsello told a news portal.
Corsello further explained: "The genomic features gave us some initial hypotheses about how the drugs could be acting, which we can then take back to study in the lab."
The team now hopes to investigate repurposing library compounds in cancer cell lines. "Our understanding of how these drugs kill cancer cells gives us a starting point for developing new therapies," Corsello told a news portal. Adding,"This is a great initial dataset, but certainly there will be a great benefit to expanding this approach in the future."
The study's findings were originally published in the journal Nature Cancer.
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