Combination of Drugs for Diabetes and Hypertension Could Program Cancer Cells to Commit Suicide
A new study revealed that that the combination of one of the widely prescribed diabetic medications and an antihypertensive drug could be used to treat a wide range of cancer.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, showed that the antihypertensive drug syrosingopine could enhance the anti-cancer properties of the diabetic medication metformin.
"We have been able to show that the two known drugs lead to more profound effects on cancer cell proliferation than each drug alone," Don Benjamin, first author of the study, in a press release. "The data from this study support the development of combination approaches for the treatment of cancer patients."
This study may have implications for future clinical application of combination scenarios targeting the energy needs of tumor cells.
For the study, the researchers screened over a thousand drugs that could enhance the anticancer properties of metformin. Despite the anti-cancer action of metformin, the usual therapeutic dose of the this diabetic medication is too low to effectively fight cancer.
In mice models with malignant liver cancer, the combination of metformin and syrosingopine was able to reduce the enlargement of the liver. The number of tumor nodules was also noticeably less. The tumors of some animals even disappeared completely. When the researchers also observed that the combined drugs killed almost all tumors in the samples of leukemia patients, even when given at doses that are not toxi to normal cells.
The researchers noted that the anti-cancer capability of the combined drugs comes from its ability to interrupt the vital process which provides energy for the cancer cells. Metformin blocks the respiratory chain in the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. On the other hand, syrosingopine inhibits the degradation of sugars.
By reducing the energy supply of the cancer cells, the concoction of metformin and syrosingopine could reduce the numbers of tumors and even eliminate them entirely.