APR 01, 2015 03:35 PM PDT

Old Cancer Drug Could Have New Use in Fighting Cancer

A drug used for decades to treat leukemia may have other uses in the fight against cancer, researchers at the University of Missouri have found. Previously, doctors used 6-Thioguanine, or 6-TG, as a chemotherapy treatment to kill cancer cells in patients with leukemia. In recent years, many doctors have shelved 6-TG in exchange for newer drugs that are more effective. Now, Jeffrey Bryan, an associate professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, and his colleagues found that 6-TG can not only kill cancer cells, but also works to change how certain cancer cells function, weakening those cells so they can be killed by other drugs.
Jeffrey Bryan, an associate professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, and his colleagues found that 6-TG can not only kill cancer cells, but also works to change how certain cancer cells function.
Every cell in the body has certain genetic characteristics called epigenetic markers that give cells instructions on how to act, when to multiply and when to die. Cancer cells often have epigenetic markers that cause genes to be either turned off or out of control. This causes those cells to grow rapidly, become difficult to kill and ultimately damage the body. When testing the drug on cells from dogs with cancer, the MU researchers found that 6-TG can affect these epigenetic markers in cancer cells through a chemical process called demethylation. This process works to turn off damaging epigenetic markers and turn on markers that make the cells act in a healthy manner. Bryan says this discovery could lead to future cancer treatments using multiple drugs to fight the disease from different sides.

"While 6-TG is no longer one of the more powerful cancer-killing drugs doctors have at their disposal, we found that it could still be useful to fight cancer in conjunction with other drugs," said Bryan, who also is the director of the Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory at MU. "If we can use 6-TG to turn off dangerous markers in cancer cells so that those cells become easier to kill, we then can use more powerful cancer-killing drugs to eliminate the cells for good."

Bryan says this research could potentially open doors for future research on other old cancer drugs that are no longer used by doctors. By re-examining other potential uses for these old drugs, Bryan says more effective treatments could be found. He also says that doing this research on dogs with cancer could translate well to human diseases.

"Epigenetic markers work similarly in dogs and humans, so we expect to see similar results with these drugs in humans as we do in dogs," Bryan said. "This is 'a one step back, two steps forward' approach to cancer research. Gaining approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to use new drugs to treat human diseases is a difficult, time-intensive process. By examining alternate uses of old drugs in dogs, we hope to be able to expedite that process down the road when we introduce these novel combination treatments in humans."

Source: University of Missouri
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
JUN 26, 2018
Cancer
JUN 26, 2018
Genomic Markers Identified for Infant Soft Tissue Tumors
A new article from Nature Communications published on June 18, 2018 now outlines a newly discovered connection between infant soft tissue tumors and the mutations involving EGFR and BRAF gene...
JUL 24, 2018
Cancer
JUL 24, 2018
FDA Approves New Drug for Refractory/Relapsed AML
A new drug and new drug class have been approved by the FDA for relapsed or refractory AML patients with an IDH1 mutation. The new drug offers options for patients....
JUL 30, 2018
Cancer
JUL 30, 2018
Challenges Coming to a Cancer Diagnosis in the UK
England's NHS Cancer Patient Experience Survey shows some cancers take longer for GPs to recognize....
SEP 12, 2018
Microbiology
SEP 12, 2018
Researchers ID a Link Between a Bacterial Strain and Gastric Cancer
Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that causes stomach ulcers, and can lead to gastric cancer....
OCT 04, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 04, 2018
Similar Processes Drive the Development of Lung and Prostate Cancers
Small cell cancers often have poor prognoses....
OCT 05, 2018
Cancer
OCT 05, 2018
FDA approves a new drug for an advanced type of skin cancer
As cancer is one of the most challenging diseases in our world, many efforts have been put into researching new ways for treatment to find new drugs that could help more patients worldwide. A...
Loading Comments...