In a recent article titled “Repurposing drugs in oncology (ReDO)—Cimetidine as an anti-cancer agent”, published in the ecancermedicalscience journal, a team of researchers discussed the benefits of cimetidine, a commonly used indigestion medicine that is known to increase survival in colorectal cancer.
However, even though this connection has been known for some years, it has not yet been explored to its fullest.
“Cimetidine is an interesting drug as it’s very safe, very well-known, and has clinical results in cancer that have been confirmed in a number of trials,” lead author Pan Pantziarka, said in a news release.
Cimetidine has the capacity to treat indigestion through the blockade of histamine receptors present in the gut. This in turn diminishes the production of gastric acid.
What researchers have observed is that this drug also has the capacity to block histamine receptors present in cancer cells along with increasing the immune system’s defenses towards cancer. As such, cimetidine has already shown encouraging results in colorectal and gastric cancer, along with melanoma and renal cell carcinoma.
“Cimetidine is one of the most interesting examples of repurposed drugs in oncology — a drug with an extensive history of pre-clinical and clinical evidence of efficacy in a range of different cancers and with multiple mechanisms of action at work,” Dr. Pantziarka added in the news release.
The ReDO project was born from the collaboration between several cancer researchers from different countries, and its primary objective consists in promoting the use of common medicine that have the potential of becoming novel therapies in the battle against cancer.
In a previous study, also published in ecancermedicalscience, ReDO researchers investigated the potential of mebendazole, a common treatment for threadworm, to treat cancer.
The team is now publishing several studies on different drugs that have shown promising anti-cancer results and will be further evaluated in clinical trials, such as nitroglycerin (used to treat angina), itraconazole (a common anti-fungal), diclofenac (a painkiller), and clarithromycin (an antibiotic).
“Such promising therapies are often ignored since pharmaceutical companies lack financial incentives to develop them further via proper clinical trials,” Gauthier Bouche, medical director of Anticancer Fund explained in the news release. “The ReDO project was established to find and document such opportunities.”
Repurposed anticancer drugs represent a cheap and accessible solution, which can be safely used by patients in low- and middle-income countries while decreasing the financial load of cancer treatment in developed countries.
“Cimetidine is a drug that can meet patient needs now — so we need to ask ourselves: what’s stopping it being used?” Dr. Pantziarka concluded.