Old drugs offer new ways to treat bowel cancer

Old drugs, combined in new ways, show promise for treating bowel cancer, a group of researchers from the University of Auckland have found.

“While there have been advances in treatments for this disease in recent years, developing new drugs is costly and time-consuming,” says lead researcher Professor Peter Shepherd. “As a possible solution to this problem, our group investigated whether using old drugs in new ways could provide a faster and cheaper way to treat this disease.”

Scientists have studied several cancer drugs that will soon be patented. When they combined two of these drugs, they found significantly improved overall effectiveness in treating bowel or colorectal cancer in their laboratory studies.

Developments in our understanding of how cancers work paved the way for this research, Shepherd says.

“In recent years, research has led to a rapid increase in our understanding of how colorectal cancer develops. In particular, certain subtypes of the disease rely on the development of small blood vessels and on proteins called BRAF and beta-catenin.

“The research group identified existing drugs that target them and investigated the possibility that their combination may have potent anti-cancer effects.”

Studies at the University of Auckland laboratories have shown great promise for two older drugs. One is a cancer drug called axitinib. The other is pyrvinium, an inexpensive drug that was developed in the 1960s to treat threadworms, which researchers say could be reformulated for use in cancer treatment. In a series of studies, researchers found that the effectiveness of another older BRAF-targeting drug, called vemurafenib, could be greatly improved by adding axitinib. Axitinib works by reducing the growth of small blood vessels.

Both of these drugs are used in other settings to treat other types of cancer and will soon be off patent, so the cost of using them in treatment will come down significantly, Shepherd says.

In a second set of studies, the group found evidence that pyrvinium, which targets beta-catenin, may also increase the effectiveness of vemurafenib.

Dr Khanh Tran, who carried out most of the experiments, says: “This work suggests that existing drugs could be reused to treat this type of cancer, which could significantly reduce the cost of such therapy.”

Tran says, “Because the drugs we’ve used are already being used for other purposes, it’s much easier to develop clinical trials to see how the results of our studies will actually translate to better patient outcomes. with this disease.”

The HRC provided $1.2 million over three years for this research, and the Gut Cancer Foundation supported it with an additional $150,000.

Next, the researchers plan a randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Source of the story:

Materials provided by University of Auckland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Comments are closed.