Navigation Links
Lab study shows methadone breaks resistance in untreatable forms of leukemia
Date:7/31/2008

PHILADELPHIA Researchers in Germany have discovered that methadone, an agent used to break addiction to opioid drugs, has surprising killing power against leukemia cells, including treatment resistant forms of the cancer.

Their laboratory study, published in the August 1 issue of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggests that methadone holds promise as a new therapy for leukemia, especially in patients whose cancer no longer responds to chemotherapy and radiation.

"Methadone kills sensitive leukemia cells and also breaks treatment resistance, but without any toxic effects on non-leukemic blood cells," said the study's senior author, Claudia Friesen, Ph.D., of the Institute of Legal Medicine at the University Ulm. "We find this very exciting, because once conventional treatments have failed a patient, which occurs in old and also in young patients, they have no other options."

Methadone, developed in Germany in the 1930s, is a low cost agent that acts on opioid receptors, and thus is used as an opioid substitute to treat addiction. Scientists have found that opioid receptors also exist on the surface of some cancer cells for reasons that are not understood. One research group tested the agent in human lung cancer cell lines and found that it can induce cell death.

In this study, Friesen and her colleagues tested methadone in leukemia cells in laboratory culture because this cancer also expresses the opioid receptor. Theirs is the first study to look at use of the agent in leukemia, specifically in lymphoblastic leukemia T-cell lines and human myeloid leukemia cell lines.

They found that methadone was as effective as standard chemotherapies and radiation treatments against non-resistant leukemia cells, and that non-leukemic peripheral blood lymphocytes survived after methadone treatment.

To their surprise, they found that methadone also effectively killed leukemia that was resistant to multiple chemotherapies and to radiation. Probing the mechanism of methadone's action, the researchers found that it activates the mitochondrial pathway within leukemia cells, which activates enzymes called caspases that prompt a cell into apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. Chemotherapy drugs use the same approach, but methadone activated caspases in sensitive leukemia cells, and also reversed deficient activation of caspases in resistant leukemia cells.

Friesen said the research team is beginning to study methadone treatment in animal models of human leukemia, and she also says that other cancers might be suitable for treatment with the agent.

In this study, the single doses used to kill leukemia cells were greater than doses used to treat opioid addiction, but the researchers have since found that they can use a daily low dose of methadone to achieve the same effect. Friesen adds that while methadone can, itself, become addictive, that addiction is much easier to break compared to addiction to true opioids. "Addiction shouldn't be an unsolvable problem if methadone is ever used as an anti-cancer therapy," she said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jeremy Moore
Jeremy.moore@aacr.org
267-646-0557
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Childhood obesity indicates greater risk of school absenteeism, Penn study reveals
2. A study by the MUHC and McGill University opens a new door to understanding cancer
3. Study begins to reveal clues to the cause and progression of sepsis
4. Clones on task serve greater good, evolutionary study shows
5. New study warns limited carbon market puts 20 percent of tropical forest at risk
6. New study examines how rearing environment can alter navigation
7. Study links cat disease to flame retardants in furniture and to pet food
8. New continent and species discovered in Atlantic study
9. Study shows link between alcohol consumption and hiv disease progression
10. Feeling hot, hot, hot: New study suggests ways to control fever-induced seizures
11. Study finds environmental tests help predict hospital-acquired Legionnaires disease risk
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/7/2016)... According to a new market research report "Emotion Detection ... Voice Recognition), Service, Application Area, End User, And Region - Global Forecast to ... 6.72 Billion in 2016 to USD 36.07 Billion by 2021, at a Compound ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... WARSAW, Ind. , Dec. 6, 2016  Zimmer Biomet ... that it has priced an offering of €500.0 million principal ... €500.0 million principal amount of its 2.425% senior unsecured notes ... is expected to occur on December 13, 2016, subject to the ... on an annual basis. ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... The report "Biometric Vehicle Access ... (Iris Recognition System), Vehicle Type (Passenger Car, Battery ... 2021", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is estimated ... is projected to grow to USD 854.8 Million ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160303/792302) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Biotheranostics today announced ... role of the Breast Cancer Index (BCI) in ... cancer are most at-risk for disease recurrence and ... results from three studies advancing the understanding of ... to tumor biology and inform decisions related to ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... USA, and CARDIFF, UK (PRWEB) , ... December ... ... with very high precision light to control cells — optogenetics — is key ... the current state of the art, spatially patterned light projected via free-space optics ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... -- Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), The ... range with the launch of the SureSeq myPanel™ NGS Custom ... in familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). The panel delivers single nucleotide variation ... small panel and allows customisation by ,mix and match, of ... LDLR , P C SK9 , ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... ... exceptionally efficient human mesenchymal stem/stromal cell (hMSC) expansion medium. This single ... engineered to radically streamline culture processes, minimize processing time, significantly decrease production ...
Breaking Biology Technology: