Scientists in Switzerland claim to have found an effective treatment of cancer in existing diabetes and antihypertensive drugs. A combination of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes and hypertension can effectively kill cancer cells, the scientists have claimed.
The team of experts, led by Prof. Michael Hall at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel in Switzerland, found in their study that metformin- a diabetes pill, and syrosingopine- an antihypertensive drug, may effectively combat a variety of cancer cells by driving them to commit ‘suicide.’
Metformin is the most commonly prescribed oral diabetes medicine drug that improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. Besides its blood sugar lowering outcome, Metformin also has anti-cancer properties. However, the usual dose of it is too low to efficiently combat cancer. Prof. Hall and his research team has now discovered that antihypertensive drug syrosingopine increases the anti-cancer effectiveness of the diabetes drug.
“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,” Don Benjamin, first author of the study, said. “And the effect was exclusively confined to cancer cells, as the blood cells from healthy donors were insensitive to the treatment.”
In an experiment with mice model, the research team found that in rodents with malignant liver cancer, enlargement of the liver was reduced after being treated with the mixture of drugs. What’s more, the amount of tumor lumps was reduced, with some of the tumors disappearing completely.
The Diabetes and Antihypertensive drug mixture interrupts the vital processes which provide energy to the cancer cell, the researchers found
“We have been able to show that the two known drugs lead to more profound effects on cancer cell proliferation than each drug alone,” Benjamin said. “The data from this study support the development of combination approaches for the treatment of cancer patients.”
Based on their findings, the researchers affirm their discovery offers a novel option for both classes of compounds in cancer therapy.
Metformin is the first-line medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Marketed under the trade name Glucophage, Bolamyn and Glucient among others, this oral drug directly targets the liver to reduce the excessive sugar production caused by type 2 diabetes, consequently decreasing the levels of glucose in the bloodstream and increasing the body’s response to insulin.
The study demonstrating the efficacy of the metformin-syrosingopine combination in treating cancer was published in Science Advances.