Metformin news reminds us why drug repurposing is so important

2 min read

A key theme of our Manifesto 2019 is to put pressure on the Government to consider and support drug repurposing. We know that drugs developed for other disease areas may have effectiveness against brain tumours so it’s vital that pharmaceutical companies, as well as our politicians, embrace innovative approaches to drug development as well as emerging therapies.

Today’s Daily Mail reports the case of GP Lisa McGrath who was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at the age of 42. She had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy which cleared the disease only for it to return six years later, in 2018, in multiple sites including the bones of her legs, pelvis, spine and ribs.

She says that metformin, which is not usually prescribed to cancer patients but is a routine treatment for type 2 diabetes, combined with her mainstream treatment, has kept her cancer at bay and has even caused some shrinkage of her tumours.

We believe that drug repurposing is an area of real promise for the development of new therapies for the treatment of brain tumours and should be seen as a key research priority. Work at our Imperial College Research Centre has highlighted candidate drugs which are being assessed in detail to identify those which may be effective in the clinic.

Dr Nelofer Syed, at the centre, told us : “Preliminary findings at our lab show that metformin combined with current novel therapeutic strategies identified in the lab kills patient derived brain tumour cells more effectively. We believe it does this by altering metabolism to hinder the growth of the tumour cells. We still need to do more work but these are very promising early results.”

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