Cimetidine, a commonly used indigestion medication, has been demonstrated to increase survival in colorectal cancer and could be repurposed as an anticancer drug for treatment of the disease, claims a new study published recently in ecancermedicalscience.
The drug can treat indigestion by targeting histamine receptors in the gut, which results in a decrease in gastric acid production. Cimetidine can also block histamine receptors in cancer cells and support the immune system’s defences against cancer. Having been studied for many years, the agent has shown very promising results in colorectal and gastric cancer, melanoma, and renal cell carcinoma.
“Cimetidine is one of the most interesting examples of repurposed drugs in oncology – a drug with an extensive history of preclinical and clinical evidence of efficacy in a range of different cancers and with multiple mechanisms of action at work,” commented Pan Pantziarka, lead author of the paper and member of the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project.
The ReDo project is a collaboration of individuals from anticancer researchers worldwide and focuses on looking at commonly used medications could be repurposed as novel cancer therapies. They also recently investigated the anticancer use of the over-the-counter threadworm treatment, mebendazole, and future papers will detail evaluation of nitroglycerin (used to treat angina), itraconazole (a common antifungal), diclofenac (an over-the-counter painkiller) and clarithromycin (an antibiotic).
“Such promising therapies are often ignored since pharmaceutical companies lack financial incentives to develop them further via proper clinical trials,” explained Gauthier Bouche, medical director of Anticancer Fund.
The leaders of the ReDO project believe that repurposed drugs could be the future of cancer treatment research, as they have few side effects, are cheap, accessible and would be s good option for low- to middle-income countries.
“Cimetidine is a drug that can meet patient needs now – so we need to ask ourselves: what’s stopping it being used?” commented Pantziarka.