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4 April 2011
Cardiac drug shows promise as prostate cancer treatment
by George Atkinson

The heart failure drug digoxin has emerged as a possible therapy for prostate cancer, say epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University. The finding is a result of multidisciplinary scientists coming together to identify existing drugs that could be used to treat prostate cancer in a process called drug repositioning.

"If you use drugs that are already available then you have a long history of safety research that does not necessarily need to be redone, and we can move more quickly to testing whether the drug will actually work in a new setting," explained researcher Elizabeth Platz.

To identify the potential of digoxin, Platz and colleagues from Johns Hopkins and Harvard combined a high-throughput laboratory-based screen and a large, prospective cohort study.

In the lab-based stage, the scientists conducted an in vitro prostate cancer cell toxicity screen of 3,187 compounds, and digoxin, a known heart failure drug emerged as a leading candidate due to its potency in inhibiting cell proliferation in vitro.

In the second stage, the team analyzed the drug's use in a group of 47,884 men who were followed over the course of twenty years. It turned out that regular digoxin users had a 24 percent lower risk of prostate cancer, while those who had used the drug for more than 10 years had a 46 percent reduced risk.

Platz said the research team are now working toward identifying the physiological pathways digoxin acts on. Knowing this will help them design a trial that will confirm whether digoxin, or molecules acting on the same targets, can be used as a prostate cancer treatment.

Dramatic results from experimental prostate cancer treatment
Metastatic Prostate Cancer More Likely
Experimental treatment hits the toughest prostate cancer cells
Prostate Cancer Drugs Found To Addle The Brain

Source: American Association for Cancer Research

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