Metformin is an FDA-approved drug to control blood glucose in type 2 diabetics
But a study by Massachusetts General Hospital found it also controls cancer
The drug shuts off molecules needed for cancer to invade and grow in cells
An FDA-approved drug normally used to treat diabetes could control the growth of certain cancers, according to a new study.
Metformin targets the liver to lower blood glucose in type 2 diabetes patients.
But now in an unprecedented finding, scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that same process has an anti-cancer effect.
Specifically, tests have shown the drug targets cells’ mitochondria (the ‘battery’ of the cell) in a way that restricts the growth of breast, pancreas and prostate cancer.
The somewhat accidental discovery about a drug for a different disease could be groundbreaking for cancer control and treatment.
Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that the type 2 diabetes drug metformin controls the growth of breast, prostate and pancreas cancers.
‘We found that metformin reduces the traffic of molecules into and out of the nucleus – the ‘information center’ of the cell,’ said senior author of the study Dr Alexander Soukas.
He added: ‘By shedding new light on metformin’s health-promoting effects, these results offer new potential ways that we can think about treating cancer and increasing healthy aging.’
Metformin limits the liver’s ability to produce glucose which would be released into the bloodstream.
It does this by suppressing the cell’s energy.
This makes it harder for molecules to travel through the nuclear pore.
It also shuts down an important cellular growth molecule (mTORC1).
This activates a cancer-fighting gene called ACAD10, which both slows the growth and extends cells’ lifespan.
It means cancer struggles to wage its war on the body’s cells.
Current clinical trials are testing the impact of metformin on cancers of the breast, prostate and pancreas; and several research groups are working to identify its molecular targets.
Dr Soukas’s team has found that metformin has the same effect on roundworms as it does on cancer in the human body, making roundworms a perfect model for testing.
Just as it blocks the growth of cancer cells, metformin slows growth in roundworms.
‘Amazingly, this pathway operates identically, whether in the worm or in human cancer cells,’ Dr Soukas, who is an assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said.
They found that they could manipulate the worm’s cells to make it easier or harder for cancer to grow.
That, he said, was the most exciting discovery.
‘That suggests that the nuclear pore and ACAD10 may be manipulated in specific circumstances to prevent or even treat certain cancers.’
More research is needed to determine how and why this works, to develop effective treatments.
‘What ACAD10 does is a great mystery that we are greatly interested in solving,’ he says.
‘Determining exactly how ACAD10 slows cell growth will provide additional insights into novel therapeutic targets for cancer and possibly ways to manipulate the pathway to promote healthy aging.’
Link Original: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4038238/Hope-cancer-fight-study-shows-FDA-approved-diabetes-drug-controls-tumor-growth-breast-prostate.html?ITO=applenews