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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cancer Research: Some anti-psychotic drugs could fight against cancers

Antipsychotics (also called neuroleptics) are a group of psychoactive drugs commonly but not exclusively used to treat psychosis, which is typified by schizophrenia. Common conditions with which antipsychotics might be used include schizophrenia (as discussed above), mania, and delusional disorder. They might be used to counter psychosis associated with a wide range of other diagnoses, such as psychotic depression. These antipsychotic drugs can have a range of side-effects, causing many patients to stop taking them.
However, sometimes there are positive side effects. Research into finding medicines or chemicals that can help in the fight against cancer is one of the most researched areas in medical science. Cancer cells are much more rapidly growing than the normal cells in the neighborhood (surrounding body region), and it is by stopping the nutrients that nourish these cancer cells that antipsychotic drugs take effect (link to article):

According to a preliminary finding in the current online issue of the International Journal of Cancer, the anti-psychotic drug, pimozide, kills lung, breast and brain cancer cells in in-vitro laboratory experiments. Rapidly-dividing cancer cells require cholesterol and lipids to grow and the researchers suspect that pimozide kills cancer cells by blocking the synthesis or movement of cholesterol and lipid in cancer cells.
To test the idea, the researchers combined pimozide with mevastatin, a drug that inhibits cholesterol production in cells. The two drugs were more lethal in combination against cancer cells than when either drug was used alone. "The combination of pimozide and mevastatin increased cancer cell death," says UNSW researcher Dr Louise Lutze-Mann, a co-author of the study. Although side-effects are associated with the use of high doses of these drugs - such as tremors, muscle spasms and slurred speech - these effects are considered to be tolerable in patients where other treatments have failed and the drugs will only be used short-term.

Any research that helps in the fight against cancer is welcome, given that even with so many decades of research against cancer, it is still a fight; even effective treatment can have some bad side effects.

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