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Diabetes drug metformin show promise in cancer

May 9, 2015

Researchers at Purdue University, the Indiana University School of Medicine and the University of Wisconsin discovered a combination of two currently available drugs significantly slowed the growth of late-stage prostate cancer tumors in mice.

The researchers gave low doses of the drug metformin, a widely used anti-diabetes pill, and BI2536, a gene inhibitor, to mice given prostate cancer cells from a human. The cancer tumors in the mice were advanced, meaning they were still growing even after being treated with other available medicines.

“We’ve found a promising way to treat late-stage prostate cancer,” said Xiaoqi Liu, associate professor of biochemistry and cancer research, who was on the team of researchers. They published their findings in The Journal of Biological Chemistry earlier this year.

“Completely curing the cancer at the advanced stage is pretty much impossible, but this treatment might manage it for a while—that’s exciting,” Liu added.

Liu said the next step in the research is to test the combination of drugs in clinical trials. Further research is also needed to understand the underlying mechanism of metformin and why it is effective at suppressing prostate cancer.•

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