A Diabetes Drug Has Shut Down Cancer’s Primary Way of Making Energy
In a study of 39 non-diabetic cancer patients, low-dose treatment with diabetes medication metformin resulted in a significant increase in tumor cell death.
Though more studies are needed before this can become a recommended cancer treatment, the results are promising as metformin produces almost no unwanted side effects.
A Welcomed Side Effect
While the typical side effects noted along with medications include upset stomach, headache, and difficulty operating heavy machinery, one medication used to treat diabetes has shown a far more positive unintended consequence: It helps fight cancer.
Researchers have observed that diabetic patients whose diabetes was being treated with the drug metformin had better chances of recovering from head and neck cancer than non-diabetic patients. During the course of a three-year study, which was detailed in the journal The Laryngoscope, researchers at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University examined this unintended side effect further and learned a great deal about how metformin affects the biology of cancer cells.
The researchers tested tumor cells in 39 non-diabetic cancer patients before and after they were treated with metformin in doses equal to half of what diabetic patients are usually given. While looking for molecular markers of cell death and changes in the metabolic pathways of cancer cells, which can make them more susceptible to standard therapy, the researchers noticed two things. The first was that the patients showed a significant increase in tumor cell death, or apoptosis. Secondly, cancer-supporting Continue reading