In a new study, researchers have developed a new kind of drug that may effective in treating cancer.
The new drug was inspired by their previous findings of new ways of battling viruses like the ones that cause hepatitis delta and the common cold.
The research was conducted by a team at Stanford University and elsewhere.
The underlying idea of the new cancer drug is to disrupt otherwise normal cellular processes that both viruses and some cancer cells rely on to grow and spread.
Previously, the team showed that the new approach prevented hepatitis delta from replicating and releasing new copies of the virus in patients.
Later, they modified their strategy to attack enterovirus 71, which is best known for causing hand, foot, and mouth disease but can also lead to devastating polio-like paralysis symptoms in children.
The researchers have continued to develop antiviral drugs, and other scientists noticed that the same cellular processes the team had successfully shut down were also involved in cancer metastasis.
In the new study, tests in mice and human cancer cells showed that the antiviral drugs could shrink tumors and prevent their spread.
In mouse studies, a drug the team tested reduced how often human cancer implanted into the mouse in one lung spread to the second lung.
With another compound, there were no detectable metastases at all, and both drugs reduced the size of tumors in the first lung.
Human breast cancers growing in mice also shrunk in half after just one week of treatment.
The team also looked at an earlier drug developed.
That drug, they found, also curbed cell growth in human lung cancer cell lines. The team also gained some insight into which mice—and one day, they hope, humans—might benefit the most from the new drugs.
That team is now starting to think about new ways to use their drugs, for example in combination with existing therapies to make them better against drug-resistant tumors, which might be susceptible to a new approach.
The lead author of the study is Stanford virologist Jeffrey Glenn.
The study is published in Science Translational Medicine.
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