Drug screening finds new compounds that prevent growth of prostate
6 Jan 2011
Researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and
the University of Turku have discovered that several drugs and compounds
already in the market can prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells.
The project investigated the effects of nearly 5,000 drugs and
micromolecules on the growth of prostate cancer cells. The project
involved most of the drugs on the market today. Researchers found
that small amounts of compounds — disulfiram (antabuse), thiram (a
fungicide), tricostatin A, and monensin (an antibiotic used in the
meat and dairy industry) — can prevent the growth of prostate cancer
cells without significant effects on the growth of the normal human
prostate epithelial cells.
Further studies revealed that monensin caused prostate cancer
cell death by reducing the amount of testosterone receptor and by
increasing production of reactive oxygen species and inducing DNA
damage. In addition, monensin was shown to have combined effects
with anti-androgens — the drugs suppressing the effects of androgens
— in preventing prostate cancer cell growth.
"These research findings give rise to a potential new use for the
monensin. The results also demonstrate that the effects of
anti-androgens in suppressing the growth of cancer cells can be
enhanced by using drugs inducing production of reactive oxygen
species", say Senior Research Scientist Kristiina Iljin from VTT and
Research Scientist Kirsi Ketola from the University of Turku.
The research findings concerning the effects of drugs and
micromolecules were published in the Clinical Cancer Research
journal in 2009. The effects of monensin on preventing the growth of
prostate cancer was published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
journal in December 2010.
Recently, medical companies have shown great interest in these
kinds of projects aiming at finding novel indications for
established drugs. Since the dosage and adverse effects of drugs
already in use and their combined effects with other drugs are
relatively well known, this kind of drug repositioning may result in
considerable cost savings.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death
in men after lung cancer. It has been estimated that globally about
300,000 men die from prostate cancer every year.