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Study questions anti-cancer mechanisms of drug tested in clinical trials

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Posted January 14, 2014

The diabetes drug metformin is also being tested in numerous clinical trials for treating different cancers, and several studies point to its apparent activation of a molecular regulator of cell metabolism called AMPK to suppress tumor growth.

But new research appearing the week of Jan. 13 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that activation of AMPK may actually fuel cancer growth. Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who led the study also recommend that clinicians testing metformin for cancer treatment consider a careful re-evaluation of their clinical data.

The researchers report on extensive laboratory tests that conclude metformin does stop cancer, although not by activating AMPK. Instead, in tests involving glioma brain cancer cells, the authors found that metformin inhibits a different molecule called mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) that has been linked to many other cancers.

In the body, metformin also suppresses the actions of insulin and insulin-like growth factors – two molecules that support cancer growth – and also likely independent of AMPK, according to Biplab Dasgupta, PhD, principal investigator and a researcher in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Cincinnati Children’s.

Read more at: Phys.org

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