Sunday, April 22, 2018

Four dollar drug might be effective against most aggressive prostate cancers

The cell's mitochondria produce the energy that fuels the
cell. Metformin may be used to shut down mitochondria
in aggressive prostate cancer cells 
CANCER DIGEST – April 22, 2018 – New research shows how a common drug for diabetes may halt aggressive prostate cancer.

The drug metformin has long been linked with anti-cancer properties as numerous studies have shown lower rates of certain cancers among diabetic patients who take the drug, but just how the drug might work against cancer was unknown.

In a study led by Dr. Lloyd Trotman’s team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and published the April 2018 journal of Cell Reports the researchers have shown that the drug’s ability to inhibit the cell’s "energy generator" called mitochondria can be used to selectively kill aggressive prostate tumor cells.

Studies of prostate tumors of men who have died of aggressive prostate cancer tend to lack functioning copies of two genes called PTEN and P53 that act to suppress cancer.

In the new study, Trotman’s group was looking for a way to target these aggressive prostate cancer cells that lack PTEN and P53. They screened a lot of drugs only to find that metformin was most effective by inhibiting mitochondria, which cancer cells need as a source of energy.

Denied access to energy from mitochondria, the cells then turn to burning sugar, which is consumed quickly. Once cancer cells have burned all their fuel they die.

The study shows that metformin’s ability to inhibit energy production by mitochondria could make it effective in selectively killing aggressive cancer cells. If metformin can be shown to halt aggressive prostate cancer it would be one of the least expensive anti-cancer drugs available. Sixty pills cost about $4 at Walmart.

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