Common addiction drug could help treat colorectal cancer

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In a new study from the University of Ottawa, researchers have discovered that vanoxerine, a drug initially aimed at treating cocaine addiction, could offer new hope in the fight against advanced colorectal cancer.

Led by Dr. Yannick Benoit, an associate professor, the study showcases how vanoxerine targets cancer stem cells in a novel way, potentially opening doors to more effective treatments for one of the world’s deadliest cancers.

Colorectal cancer, often termed a “silent killer,” is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally. It’s particularly insidious because it doesn’t usually show symptoms in its early stages.

Alarmingly, recent statistics indicate a rise in cases among younger adults, underscoring the urgent need for innovative treatment strategies.

Dr. Benoit’s team discovered that vanoxerine disrupts the activity of cancer stem cells by interfering with dopamine transport proteins and inhibiting the G9a enzyme in colorectal tumors.

This dual action not only hampers the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide but also makes the tumors more vulnerable to the body’s immune system.

This latter effect is especially noteworthy since colorectal tumors typically resist conventional immunotherapies.

One of the most exciting aspects of this research is the potential for vanoxerine to be a safe treatment option. The drug has already been tested in patients for other conditions, showing minimal toxicity.

This suggests that it could target cancer stem cells without damaging the healthy stem cells that are vital for the body’s regular functioning.

The implications of this study are profound. For patients facing advanced stages of colorectal cancer, where treatment options are limited, vanoxerine could represent a significant leap forward.

Dr. Benoit expresses hope that their findings will lead to the development of new treatments that could dramatically improve survival rates for those with this aggressive cancer.

The success of this study is also a testament to the power of collaboration.

It brought together a diverse team of experts from the University, including the first author, Christopher Bergin, who played a pivotal role in testing vanoxerine’s effects.

Dr. Rebecca Auer contributed access to patient tissues, while Drs. Mario Tiberi and Michele Ardolino offered crucial insights.

Additionally, the work benefited from the international collaboration with Dr. Tanguy Fenouil from France, highlighting the global effort to combat colorectal cancer.

As the research community continues to explore vanoxerine’s potential, this study not only offers a glimmer of hope to those battling colorectal cancer but also exemplifies how repurposing existing drugs can lead to innovative treatments for some of the most challenging diseases.

If you care about cancer, please read studies about a new method to treat cancer effectively, and this low-dose, four-drug combo may block cancer spread.

For more information about cancer prevention, please see recent studies about nutrient in fish that can be a poison for cancer, and results showing this daily vitamin is critical to cancer prevention.

The research findings can be found in Nature Cancer.

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