The new research from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom discloses that a common drug named pimozide may treat cancer. It attacks and inhibits the cell cancer cell division and growth. It is published in the journal Oncotarget.
The researchers on this project share their experience on how they implanted mice with tumors to check the drug’s effects on them. Some of these tests determined that pimozide is effective against non-small cell lung cancer. For those who don’t know this is the most common form of lung cancer. The initial success of this experiment encouraged the researchers to apply for its patent and complete the clinical trial on human participants. These trials will start as soon as the funds permit.
What are the possible treatments?
This triple-negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer for which the tests come negative for certain receptors. It includes estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Among all the cases of breast cancer, 10% to 20% are of this specific type. Click here to read about its prevalence.
The receptors are cellular proteins that are sites to receive signals. This signaling controls cellular functions such as growth, development etc. when the results of breast cancer tests come negative for all three receptors, it shows that none of these help in growth. In that case, any treatment including hormonal therapy (for example tamoxifen and trastuzumab) has zero effect on cancer treatment.
The survival chance in this triple-negative breast cancer is minimum and even if it is treated, it has an increased risk of recurrence. That’s why researchers are working to find such a treatment that doesn’t let it recur in later years.
This drug, that is under research “pimozide” exists already and is under clinical use. It is very easy to check it for clinical trials.
The study on pimozide
Pimozide is an antipsychotic drug and like many other such drugs, it has an anticancer effect. Some of the research studies find that such drugs especially targeted for schizophrenia have minor cancer lowering capacity too. On the other side, many studies are inconclusive.
Pimozide is a neuroleptic drug and it is approved for its usage in treating schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome. Many previous pieces of research on the same drug tell that it is helpful in a number of cancer but the molecular mechanism behind it was not known. Click here to read one of the researches.
Previously this research team identified that a protein named RanGTP is responsible for growth and multiplication of triple-negative breast and other cancers. But the new study conducted a screening test for thousands of approved drugs to check their potential to block the protein. Only the Pimozide among all other medicines turned out to be a promising drug.
The same drug in different dosage was tested on healthy breast cells, triple-negative breast cancer cells, and non-small cell lung cancer cells all three. In its highest dose, the pimozide destroyed up to 90% of the cancer cells. However, it didn’t target healthy cells. Only 5% of the healthy cells were damaged in this testing.
Such mice, which were implanted with triple-negative breast cancer, were given pimozide. They showed a 61% decrease in tumors quantity and 65% reduced tumor side.
How does Pimozide kill cancer cells?
Pimozide has turned out to be an effective drug for the treatment of cancer. The spread of cancer was reduced up to 94%. The researchers who worked on pimozide explained that it targets more than one cancer promoting molecular processes. That’s why using pimozide on cancer-affected cells shows significant results.
It turned out that pimozide blocks the production of VEGFR2 that is a protein to maintain the tumor with blood supply. Additionally, pimozide prevents to synthesize an enzyme involved in metastasis. By both these actions, it stops the generation of myofibroblasts which are cells that grow tumors. More research is needed to understand the exact pathways that this drug follows. Human trials of pimozide on cancer patients will evaluate its dosage and soon it will be available as a cancer medicine.