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Heart drug cuts prostate cancer risk; holds potential for therapeutic use
Date:4/2/2011

Johns Hopkins scientists and their colleagues paired laboratory and epidemiologic data to find that men using the cardiac drug, digoxin, had a 24 percent lower risk for prostate cancer. The scientists say further research about the discovery may lead to use of the drug, or new ones that work the same way, to treat the cancer.

Digoxin, made from the foxglove plant, has been used for centuries in folk medicine and for decades to treat congestive heart failure and heart rhythm abnormalities. It also emerged as a leading candidate among 3,000 drugs screened by the Johns Hopkins team for the drugs' ability to curb prostate cancer cell growth, according to the investigators, who published their findings in the April 3 issue of Cancer Discovery.

Additional research, by the team, in a cohort of more than 47,000 men revealed that those who took digoxin for heart disease had a significantly lower risk of prostate cancer. The scientists cautioned, however, that their work does not prove digoxin prevents prostate cancer nor are they suggesting the drug be used to prevent the disease. "This is not a drug you'd give to healthy people," says Elizabeth Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology, oncology, and urology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Serious side effects include male breast enlargement and heart rhythm irregularities, and the drug commonly causes nausea, vomiting and headache.

In the first stage of research, Johns Hopkins assistant professor Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, M.D., Ph.D, Kimmel Cancer Center director and professor William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., and professor Jun Liu, Ph.D., identified 38 compounds already FDA-approved or with a history of medical use out of a database of more than 3,000. The 38 candidate drugs reduced prostate cancer cell growth in the laboratory by at least 50 percent. They did not include known chemotherapy drugs among the 38.

Nelson and Yegnasubramanian
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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