Drug for cocaine addiction is effective also for cancer therapy, study finds

February 15, 2024  08:19

Researchers from the University of Ottawa (Canada) have found that the drug vanoxerine, which was originally developed to treat cocaine addiction, can prevent the development of late-stage colorectal cancer stem cells.

The findings of this research were published in the Nature Cancer journal

Researchers have found that vanoxerine exerts a powerful effect by suppressing the activity of stem cells in colon cancer. Cancer stem cells have characteristics associated with normal stem cells, namely the ability to give rise to all types of cells found in a specific cancer sample.

During application by prescription—in the treatment of cocaine addiction, the drug affects the protein that transmits dopamine, a biologically active chemical substance that participates in the formation of feelings of pleasure and reward.

During the research of Canadian scientists, it was found that vanoxerine also suppresses the enzyme named G9a. This enzyme plays an important role in the development of colorectal cancer. As a result of G9a suppression, tumors become more susceptible to immune system attacks when vanoxerine is used. Such results were obtained during testing of the drug on healthy tissues of humans and mice. It was noted that the positive effect of the drug was manifested on the samples that were observed at the late stage of colorectal cancer at the cellular level.

The conductors of this research noted that such a method of therapy is based on the reconstruction of critical gene networks, which enables avoiding damage to normal healthy stem cells.

But additional research is needed to achieve the necessary results.

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