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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.

Related:
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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