A combination of a diabetes medication and an antihypertensive drug can effectively combat cancer cells. The team of researchers led by Prof. Michael Hall at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has also reported that specific cancer cells respond to this combination of drugs. The results of the study have now been published in “Science Advances”.
Metformin is the most widely prescribed drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Besides its blood sugar lowering effect, it also displays anti-cancer properties. The usual therapeutic dose, however, is too low to effectively fight cancer.
The research team led by Prof. Michael Hall, at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, has now made an unexpected discovery: The antihypertensive drug syrosingopine potentiates the anti-cancer efficacy of metformin. Apparently, this drug combination drives cancer cells to programmed “suicide”.
Drug cocktail kills tumor cells
At higher doses, the antidiabetic drug inhibits the growth of cancer cells but could also induce unwanted side effects. Therefore, the researchers screened over a thousand drugs for whether they can enhance the anticancer action of metformin. A favorite emerged from this screening: Syrosingopine, an antihypertensive drug. As the study shows, the cocktail of these two drugs is effective in a wide range of cancers.
“For example, in samples from leukemia patients, we demonstrated that almost all tumor cells were killed by this cocktail and at doses that are actually not toxic to normal cells”, says the first author, Don Benjamin. “And the effect was exclusively confined to cancer cells, as the blood cells from healthy donors were insensitive to the treatment.”
Drugs block “juice” supply to cancer cells
In mice with malignant liver cancer, enlargement of the liver was reduced after the therapy. Also the number of tumor nodules was less - in some animals the tumors disappeared completely. A glance at the molecular processes in the tumor cells explains the drug combination’s efficacy: Metformin lowers not only the blood glucose level, but also blocks the respiratory chain in the energy factories of the cell, the mitochondria. The antihypertensive drug syrosingopine inhibits, among other things, the degradation of sugars.
Thus, the drugs interrupt the vital processes which provide energy for the cell. Due to their increased metabolic activity and rapid growth, cancer cells have a particularly high energy consumption, which makes them extremely vulnerable when the energy supply is reduced.
Groundbreaking step towards clinical application
By testing a range of other compounds with the same mode of action, the scientists could demonstrate that the inhibition of the respiratory chain in the mitochondria is a key mechanism. These also reduced cancer cell growth in combination with the antihypertensive drug.
“We have been able to show that the two known drugs lead to more profound effects on cancer cell proliferation than each drug alone,” explains Benjamin. “The data from this study support the development of combination approaches for the treatment of cancer patients.” This study may have implications for future clinical application of combination scenarios targeting the energy needs of tumor cells.
Don Benjamin, Marco Colombi, Sravanth K. Hindupur, Charles Betz, Heidi A. Lane, Mahmoud Y. M. El-Shemerly, Min Lu, Luca Quagliata, Luigi Terracciano, Suzette Moes, Timothy Sharpe, Aleksandra Wodnar-Filipowicz, Christoph Moroni, Michael N. Hall.
Syrosingopine sensitizes cancer cells to killing by Metformin
Science Advances, published online 23 December 2016 | DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601756
Prof. Michael Hall, Biozentrum, University of Basel, phone +41 61 207 21 50, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Don Benjamin, Biozentrum, University of Basel, phone +41 61 207 21 70, E-Mail: email@example.com
Katrin Bühler | Universität Basel
Live probiotics can re-balance the gut microbiome and modify immune system response
20.11.2018 | Symprove
Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University
Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.
Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences
21.11.2018 | Medical Engineering
21.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy