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article imageDiabetes drug could help to combat lung cancer

By Tim Sandle     May 8, 2013 in Science
A medicine commonly prescribed for the treatment of diabetes appears to show potential benefits in the treatment of lung cancer.
This finding, reported by Diabetes UK, comes from a team of scientists based at the McMaster University, Canada. The scientists have discovered that a drug compound called metformin is able to slow down the growth of lung cancer cells and render them more susceptible to radiotherapy.
The drug appears to function by enhancing damage-detection signals sent within cancer cells in response to radiotherapy in a way that stops them from creating new proteins for growth. Without the protein, the cancerous cells die. At present this is based on studies on mice and no human trials have yet been undertaken.
The drug, should further trials verify the initial findings, has great potential. This is because lung cancer remains one of the most difficult forms of the disease to treat. With available treatments, less than 10% of patients survive the condition for at least five years.
Describing the research, Anthony Joshua, M.B.B.S., a staff medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital, in Toronto, is quoted by CNN as stating: “I think certainly over the last two or three years that metformin has come to the fore, and people recognize that it has an important role to play.”
Commenting on the study, Dr Kat Arney, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, is quoted as saying: "We urgently need new and better ways of treating lung cancer and this research takes us a step towards making radiotherapy a more potent treatment."
The findings have been published in the British Journal of Cancer in a paper titled “Metformin inhibits growth and enhances radiation response of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) through ATM and AMPK.”
More about Diabetes, Drug, Cancer, Lung cancer
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