In a new study from the University of Waterloo, researchers used computer drug simulations to find that doctors need to be wary of prescribing a particular treatment for all types of cancer and patients.
The drug, called metformin, has traditionally been prescribed for diabetes but has been used in clinical settings as a cancer treatment in recent years.
The researchers say while metformin shows great promise, it also has negative consequences for some types of cancers.
Doctors need to examine the value of the drug on a case-by-case basis, because for some cancers and some patient profiles, it may actually have the opposite of the intended effect by protecting tumor cells against stress.
In the study, the computer-simulated treatments use models that replicate both the drug and the cancerous cells in a virtual environment.
Such models can give clinical trials in humans a considerable head-start and can provide insights to medical practitioners that would take much longer to be discovered in the field.
The mathematical models help accelerate clinical trials and remove some of the guesswork.
The researchers say their work shows the importance of precision medicine when considering the use of metformin for cancer and other diseases.
Precision medicine is an approach that assumes each patient requires individualized medical assessment and treatment.
Everything about the patient matters, and even small differences can have a big impact on the effect of a drug, such as age, gender, genetic and epigenetic profiles.
All these things are important and can affect a patient’s drug outcome.
In addition, no one drug works for everyone, so doctors need to take a close look at each patient when considering treatments like metformin.
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The study is published in the journal BioMed Central Cancer and was conducted by Mehrshad Sadria et al.
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