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Thursday 23 Jan 2020 , 2:58 pm

A New Turn in Cancer Research: Non-Oncology Drugs Might Kill Cancer Cells

The scientist analyzed various developed drug compounds and found that nearly 50 of them were unrecognized for anti-cancer activity. The findings hint that there are possible ways to develop new cancer drugs or repurpose the existing one.
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A result of study by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute concluded that the non-oncology drugs used to treat diabetes, inflammation, alcoholism, and even for treating arthritis in dogs can also kill the cancer cells in the lab.

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These researchers collected and analyzed the various developed drug compounds and found that nearly 50 of them were unrecognized for anti-cancer activity. The findings hint that there are possible ways to develop new cancer drugs or repurpose the existing one.

“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,” said Todd Golub, CSO and Director of the Cancer Program at the Broad, Charles A. Dana, Investigator, Human Cancer Genetics at Dana-Farber, and Professor at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers tested all the compounds in the Drug Repurposing Hub, (a Broad’s collection that comprised 4,518 drugs at the time of study) on 578 human cancer cell lines from the Broad’s Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE). For the barcoding, they used PRISM, a molecular barcoding method developed in the Golub lab. Each cell line with a DNA barcode was tagged, allowing to pool several cell lines together in each dish. Then the team observed each pool of these cells to a single compound from repurposing library, and measured the survival rate of the cancer cells. They found that about 50 non-cancer drugs killed some cancer cells, along with those initially developed to lower the cholesterol levels.

“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,” said Corsello, Oncologist, Dana-Farber and Founder of the Drug Repurposing Hub. “Our understanding of how these drugs kill cancer cells gives us a starting point for developing new therapies.”

Maybe this is just a beginning statement as Corsello informed “This is a great initial dataset, but certainly there will be a great benefit to expanding this approach in the future.” Furthermore, the scientists will continue the analysis of the data collected from their study—which they made available to the scientific community—for a better understanding of the compounds’ selective activities.




Neha Mule

Neha writes articles on sectors including medicine, food, materials, and science & technology. A qualified statistician, she has the ability to observe and analyze the trends in global markets and write compelling articles that help CXOs in decision making. She is a bookworm and loves to read fiction, lifestyle, science and technology. Neha comes with 6 years of experience in content writing and editing that involves blog writing, preparation of study materials and OERs.

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