The combination of a cholesterol-lowering drug, Bezafibrate, and a contraceptive steroid, Medroxyprogesterone Acetate, could be an effective, non-toxic treatment for a range of cancers, researchers have found. The findings, published in the journal Cancer Research, show that the drugs kill cancer cells in a completely new way.
Early stage clinical trials of the drugs in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) have shown promising results, with survival three months longer on average than standard palliative care. The combination, known as BaP, has also been used alongside chemotherapy to successfully treat children with Burkitt's lymphoma (BL), the most common childhood cancer in Eastern Africa.
The scientists used state of the art technology to interrogate the drug's effects on the metabolism and chemical make-up of AML and BL cells and found that in both cell types the drugs block an enzyme crucial to the production of fatty acids, which cancer cells need to grow and multiply. They also demonstrated that the ability of BaP treatment to deactivate this enzyme, called stearoyl CoA desaturase, was what prompted cancer cells to die.
The findings open up the possibility that BaP could be used to treat many other types of cancer that also rely on high levels of stearoyl CoA desaturase to grow. These cancers include chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as prostate, colon and oesophageal cancer.
Based on material originally posted by University of Birmingham.