Drug to Treat Addicts May Help for Cancer
According to scientists at St George’s, University of London, a recent study, Naltrexone at low doses upregulates a unique gene expression not seen with normal doses: Implications for its use in cancer therapy, published in the International Journal of Oncology, the drug naltrexone (LDN), which is used to treat addicts may be beneficial for cancer patients if given in low doses.
According to researchers, not only does LDN cause cancer cells to stop growing, it also alters their internal machinery, making them more likely to kill themselves. This discovery could lead to various other treatments becoming more effective.
The research team was led by Dr Wai Liu and Professor Angus Dalgleish and collaborated on the study with LDN Pharma. The Team discovered that, when used in small doses, the drug can modify the genes that regulate how a cancer cell behaves. LDN can reactivate genes that promote cell killing, as well as modify the genes that interact with the immune system to make it more unfriendly to cancer.
Dr Liu said: “We have shown that the genetic fingerprint of naltrexone differs according to the different doses used, which identifies new ways of using it as an anti-cancer treatment. Rather than stopping the cancer cells from growing, patients want to be rid of them. We saw that by giving the drug for two days, then withdrawing it, cancer cells would stop cycling and undergo cell death.”
Dr Liu, who has spent 20 years researching cancer treatment, hopes his research will prompt clinical trials for the use of LDN on cancer patients. He foresees LDN being used in conjunction with other cancer treatments.
At present Naltrexone is licensed in many countries for the treatment of alcohol and heroin addiction, but in much higher doses than tested in this study. While it is not licensed for the treatment of other illnesses, many patients are obtaining it ‘off lable‘ to treat conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Fibromyalgia.
Dr Liu added: “We have taken a drug that is relatively safe in humans, and reformulated a new use for it; this has only been possible by understanding the dynamics of a drug. How many other drugs can be improved in this way?
We have shown a similar ‘repackaging’ benefit with the antimalarial drug artesunate and the cannabinoids. In both cases, drugs that are not classically cancer therapies are being trialled as such.
This helps clinicians to devise new ways to tackle a disease that affects so many.”
Article: Naltrexone at low doses upregulates a unique gene expression not seen with normal doses: Implications for its use in cancer therapy, Wai M. Liu Katherine A. Scott Jayne L. Dennis Elwira Kaminska Alan J. Levett Angus G. Dalgleish, International Journal of Oncology, doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3567, published 7 June 2016.
Posted on 5 July, 2016, in Blog, Research and tagged cancer, cancer cells, cancer research, cancer treatment, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood cancer, Children with Cancer, LDN, Naltrexone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.