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Scientists Find New Method to Attack Cancer Cells

The Herald

08-29-11

DRUG used to treat diabetes could "starve" cancer cells, according to a new study.

Scientists from Cancer Research UK discovered that blocking a key controller of energy production in cancer cells and treating them with the diabetes drug, metformin, effectively starves cancer cells so they die.

They carried out laboratory tests showing the drug's effect on bowel cancer cells by targeting a protein complex called NF-kB, which plays a key role in the growth of cancer.

The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, first treated the cancer cells with a molecule that blocks NF-kB.

By itself it has no effect on survival, but when combined with the diabetes drug metformin, which blocks alternative methods of energy production, the cancer cells starved and died.

Professor Guido Franzoso, lead researcher based at Imperial College London, said researchers were now exploring the possibility of combining the molecule with metformim "as a double hit to increase their effectiveness against cancer".

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer cells need a rapid supply of energy to grow and divide and understanding how they generate energy is an exciting area of research. By blocking energy production, effectively starving the cells, researchers have revealed a new way to selectively attack cancer cells leaving normal cells unharmed."

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