Cocaine Addiction Drug Could Help Treat Colorectal Cancer

In Education

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Ottawa suggests that the experimental drug vanoxerine, initially intended for treating cocaine addiction, may hold promise in combating advanced colorectal cancer, which is among the most lethal cancer forms. This discovery unveils a potential new weapon against colorectal cancer, offering hope for improved treatment options.

Vanoxerine disrupts dopamine-transporting protein

Researchers have revealed that Vanoxerine demonstrates a formidable dual impact on colorectal cancer stem cells, which are pivotal in tumor proliferation and dissemination. Its mechanism entails disruption of a dopamine-transporting protein and inhibition of the enzyme G9a.

Colorectal cancer arises from uncontrolled cell growth in the colon or rectum, often progressing without symptoms in its early stages, earning it the label of a “silent killer.” Recent data shows it ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with concerning increases observed in younger individuals.

The Ottawa team aimed to develop new therapies for advanced colorectal cancer, which is often diagnosed late, leading to limited treatment options. Targeting cancer stem cells, which make the disease aggressive and difficult to treat, was crucial for their research. Their focus was on selectively eliminating these cells to improve treatment outcomes.

Vanoxerine inhibits tumor growth and enhance immunity

Vanoxerine exhibited strong efficacy against cancer stem cells in laboratory tests using colorectal cancer tissue samples. It not only inhibited tumor growth initially but also enhanced the immune system’s ability to detect cancer cells, potentially reducing the risk of disease recurrence.

According to Dr. Yannick Benoit, the study’s lead investigator and associate professor at the university, Vanoxerine treatment enhances vulnerability of tumors to immune system attacks by reactivating ancient viral DNA fragments, a significant discovery as colorectal tumors typically exhibit limited response to standard immunotherapy.

The research offers a safe method to target cancer stem cells in colorectal tumors without harming healthy stem cells in the body’s organs. Vanoxerine treatments showed minimal toxicity in healthy human and mouse tissues. This study provides hope for late-stage colorectal cancer patients, aiming to improve treatment options and increase survival rates. Dr. Benoit expresses optimism for the future development of effective treatments.

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