Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anti-psychotic Drugs Could Help Fight Cancer

Date:
August 13, 2009
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
A preliminary finding by researchers in Australia suggests that the anti-psychotic drug, pimozide, kills lung, breast and brain cancer cells in in-vitro laboratory experiments.

The observation that people taking medication for schizophrenia have lower cancer rates than other people has prompted new research revealing that anti-psychotic drugs could help treat some major cancers.

A preliminary finding in the current online issue of the International Journal of Cancer reports that the anti-psychotic drug, pimozide, kills lung, breast and brain cancer cells in in-vitro laboratory experiments.

Several epidemiological studies have noted the low rate of cancer among schizophrenic patients. These studies found, for example, that these patients have lower rates of lung cancer than other people, even though they are more likely to smoke.

Genetic factors and the possibility of reduced cancer detection in patients have been considered and over the past decade anti-psychotic drugs have been suggested as possible mediators of this effect.

In the new study, pimozide was the most lethal of six anti-psychotic drugs tested by a team from UNSW and the University of Queensland. Rapidly-dividing cancer cells require cholesterol and lipids to grow and the researchers suspect that pimozide kills cancer cells by blocking the synthesis or movement of cholesterol and lipid in cancer cells.

Analysis of gene expression in test cancer cells showed that genes involved in the synthesis and uptake of cholesterol and lipids were boosted when pimozide was introduced.

To test the idea that pimozide acts by disrupting cholesterol homeostasis, the researchers combined pimozide with mevastatin, a drug that inhibits cholesterol production in cells. The two drugs were more lethal in combination against cancer cells than when either drug was used alone.

"The combination of pimozide and mevastatin increased cancer cell death," says UNSW researcher Dr Louise Lutze-Mann, a co-author of the study. "We needed a lower dose of each drug to kill the same amount of cells."

Although side-effects are associated with the use of high doses of these drugs – such as tremors, muscle spasms and slurred speech – these effects are considered to be tolerable in patients where other treatments have failed and the drugs will only be used short-term. These side-effects would be reduced if the drugs were used in combination with a lipid-lowering drug, such as mevastatin.

The researchers have also investigated the effects of olazapine , a "second-generation" antipsychotic drug, and found that it also kills cancer cells but has a better side-effect profile. When administered to patients, it accumulates in the lung, which suggests that it may prove to be most useful in treating lung cancer.

The researchers are now testing these drugs on tumour cells from brain cancers since these tumours are extremely difficult to treat and are frequently associated with poor patient prognosis. Patients diagnosed with glioblastoma, for example, survive less than one year.

The results are very promising as these drugs are greater than 50-fold more effective at killing glioblastoma cells than the chemotherapeutic drug currently in use. The researchers are also investigating the effects of these drugs on cells derived from drug-resistant childhood cancers where current chemotherapy has failed.

Another hopeful prospect is an investigation of another group of drugs, called SERMs, which are similar in structure to the antipsychotic drugs but have far fewer side-effects associated with them.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Anti-psychotic Drugs Could Help Fight Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812092136.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2009, August 13). Anti-psychotic Drugs Could Help Fight Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812092136.htm
University of New South Wales. "Anti-psychotic Drugs Could Help Fight Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812092136.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Richard van As lost all fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Now, he's used the incident to create a prosthetic to help hundreds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins