More progress on this stydy can save millions of lives worldwide. “Scientists have been exploring the connection between tricyclic antidepressants and brain cancer since the early 2000s. There’s some evidence that the drugs can lower one’s risk for developing aggressive glioblastomas, but when given to patients after diagnosis in a small clinical trial, the antidepressants showed no effect as a treatment.
In a study appearing in Cancer Cell on September 24, Swiss researchers find that antidepressants work against brain cancer by excessively increasing tumor autophagy (a process that causes the Cancer Cells to eat themselves). The scientists next combined the antidepressants with blood thinners–also known to increase autophagy–as a treatment for mice with the first stages of human glioblastoma. Mouse lifespan doubled with the drug combination therapy, while either drug alone had no effect.
“It is exciting to envision that combining two relatively inexpensive and non-toxic classes of generic drugs holds promise to make a difference in the treatment of patients with lethal brain cancer,” says senior study author Douglas Hanahan, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). “However, it is presently unclear whether patients might benefit from this treatment. This new mechanism-based strategy to therapeutically target glioblastoma is provocative, but at an early stage of evaluation, and will require considerable follow-up to assess its potential.”
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