Cancer anti-depressant can also help fight the disease better

December 19th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 19 (IANS) Prozac, prescribed to ease the emotional pain of cancer patients, can also help to fight cancer itself.Dan Peer of Tel Aviv University (TAU) department of cell research and immunology is proving that it can.

A study he and colleagues completed validates that Prozac (chemical name fluoxetine) dramatically enhances the effectiveness of a widely used anti-cancer drug.

“The good news is that the medical community won’t have to wait - Prozac can be used for this purpose right away,” said Peer, noting that doctors in the US already prescribe it to treat depression in chemotherapy patients.

“Prozac is a very interesting non-specific blocker of cancer resistance,” said Peer, whose study focussed on colon cancer and the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin.

In their lab experiments, TAU scientists led by graduate student Mirit Argov together with Rimona Margalit, professor, found that Prozac enhanced doxorubicin’s (cancer drug) efficacy more than 1,000 percent.

Prozac, in effect, worked to block the cancer drug from leaving the interior of the cancer cell and poisoning the healthy non-cancerous cells that surrounded it, said a TAU release. The study was published in Cancer Letters.

In animal models, a mild doxorubicin-fluoxetine treatment combination slowed down tumour progression significantly. These results suggest that pairing Prozac with chemotherapeutic drugs to curb drug resistance warrants further clinical study, said Peer.

“Working with a major drug developer, we have validated Prozac’s potential, and now Tel Aviv University can lead a humanitarian effort to save lives around the globe,” he says.

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