OCT 22, 2019 10:34 PM PDT

Using senolytics to treat cancer

New research published in Nature Metabolism proposes using an already existing drug – a cardiac glycoside called ouabain – as a senolytic to kill off damaged aging or cancerous cells. Senolytics are a class of drugs that are capable of selectively killing senescent cells, or cells that have reached their natural aging process. Although senescence is normal, previous studies have shown that senescent cells can contribute to the spread and growth of cancer tumors.

While past research has identified some senolytics with potential anti-cancer properties, those tested up until now have also had serious side effects. However, the researchers behind the new study believe that ouabain may offer a safer alternative broad-spectrum senolytic, capable of targeting a varied array of aging cells. The research team hails from the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom.

Senior author Professor Jesús Gil commented on the potential of ouabain, saying "These drugs are already used in the clinic, so they could be repurposed to treat a long list of diseases, including cancer. This is something we are keen to explore with our clinical collaborators. Moreover, many patients are being treated with digoxin, and an epidemiologist could look retrospectively and ask the question of whether those patients who were treated with digoxin are doing better than those who weren't."

Digoxin is another type of cardiac glycoside and is in the same class of drugs as ouabain. These drugs are usually prescribed to treat cardiac arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation; however, when the researchers experimented with them to see how they affect healthy and senescent cells, they discovered that ouabain, in particular, is capable of selectively killing aging cells.

In the study, which was conducted in aging mice with precancerous lesions in the liver and after radiotherapy, the team found that ouabain was successful in killing cells senescent from cancer as well as those senescent from exposure to radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

The authors say that future studies should continue to consider the potential of cardiac glycosides as senolytics in cancer treatments. They hope to continue their investigations in this field.

Sources: Nature Metabolism, Medical News Today

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Prostate Cancer: To Treat or Not to Treat
JUL 23, 2020
Prostate Cancer: To Treat or Not to Treat
After a prostate cancer diagnosis, urologists do not always initiate immediate clinical intervention. In those with Low- ...
JUL 24, 2020
Cancer
Are you sunscreening your children the right way?
JUL 24, 2020
Are you sunscreening your children the right way?
A new national poll suggests that parents are not using the best sunscreen application practices to protect their childr ...
AUG 07, 2020
Cancer
Using organoids to improve chemotherapy for advanced stages of colon and appendiceal cancer
AUG 07, 2020
Using organoids to improve chemotherapy for advanced stages of colon and appendiceal cancer
New research published in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology uses organoids to finetune chemotherapies that tr ...
AUG 09, 2020
Cancer
Reducing post-surgery metastasis in colorectal cancer patients
AUG 09, 2020
Reducing post-surgery metastasis in colorectal cancer patients
Scientists have recently shown the successful reduction of metastasis in post-surgery colorectal cancer patients. The st ...
AUG 14, 2020
Cancer
Controlling Tumor Blood Flow to Increase Therapy Effectiveness
AUG 14, 2020
Controlling Tumor Blood Flow to Increase Therapy Effectiveness
Nowadays, most cancer drugs target a protein or inhibit a critical cellular process. Modern therapies have varying level ...
SEP 02, 2020
Cancer
Does Adjuvant Chemotherapy Really Help in a Rare Signet-ring Cell Carcinoma
SEP 02, 2020
Does Adjuvant Chemotherapy Really Help in a Rare Signet-ring Cell Carcinoma
For many rare diseases, there is a lack of a “standard” treatment options. This is more prevalent in diverse ...
Loading Comments...