Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Combination of contraceptive and cholesterol-lowering drugs kills cancer cells in a new way

The combination of a cholesterol-lowering drug, Bezafibrate (first left structure), and a contraceptive steroid, Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (second right), could be an effective, non-toxic treatment for a range of cancers, researchers at the University of Birmingham have found.

Bezafibrate.svg   Medroxyprogesterone 17-acetate.png
The findings published in the journal Cancer Research show that the drugs kill cancer cells in a completely new way.

Early stage clinical trials of the drugs in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) have shown promising results, with survival three months longer on average than standard palliative care. The combination, known as BaP, has also been used alongside chemotherapy to successfully treat children with Burkitt's lymphoma (BL), the most common childhood cancer in Eastern Africa.

Until now it was uncertain whether the activity of the drugs against these two very different blood cancers was mediated by a common mechanism or by different effects in each cancer type.

The scientists, who were funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, used state of the art technology to interrogate the drug's effects on the metabolism and chemical make-up of AML and BL cells and found that in both cell types the drugs block an enzyme crucial to the production of fatty acids, which cancer cells need to grow and multiply. They also demonstrated that the ability of BaP treatment to deactivate this enzyme, called stearoyl CoA desaturase, was what prompted cancer cells to die.

Read More at Cancer Research

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