Anti-epilepsy drug could be cancer treatment

27 January 2015

A drug commonly used to treat epilepsy could also be effective for cancer patients, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at the University of York have examined the effects of phenytoin, which works by targeting sodium channels (VGSCs). VGSCs control electrical impulse in some cells in the nervous system. They are also found in breast cells, where they are believed to encourage the growth of tumours.

A preclinical model showed that a dose of phenytoin equivalent to that used to treat epilepsy can significantly inhibit tumour growth. It can also slow cancer cell proliferation in vivo, and prevent a tumour from spreading into surrounding mammary tissue.

Lead researcher Will Brackenbury said: "This is the first study to show that phenytoin reduces both the growth and spread of breast cancer tumour cells. This indicates that re-purposing antiepileptic and antiarrhythmic drugs is worthy of further study as a potentially novel anti-cancer therapy."
The research has been published in Molecular Cancer.

Posted by ​Phillip Briggs 


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