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Malaria Drug Promising Against Cancer

60-year-old drug chloroquine eliminated certain malignancies in mice, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A common anti-malaria drug called chloroquine can also prevent the development of certain types of human cancers in mice, a U.S. study finds.

The finding may help lead to new kinds of cancer treatments, researchers say.

Scientists at The Scripps Institute and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital found that chloroquine, which has been in use since 1946, blocked Burkitt lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and ataxia telangiectasia (A-T), a rare immunodeficiency disease that predisposes people to cancer, especially leukemia and lymphoma.

The study was published online Dec. 20 by the Journal of Clinical Investigationand will appear in the January print edition.

"Our study shows that chloroquine inhibits the final steps of a pathway that is required for tumor cell survival and effectively eliminates cancer cells in mouse models that replicate human tumors," John Cleveland, chairman of the department of cancer biology at Scripps' campus in Jupiter, Fla., said in a prepared statement.

"The fact that the drug attacks premalignant cells, and cells that overexpress transcription factor MYC, a notorious contributor to tumorigenesis that is implicated in more than 70 percent of all cancers, makes the use of this drug very attractive for chemoprevention and cancer treatment," he said.

Much more research is required before these findings may lead to the development of new cancer drugs, he added.

More information

MedlinePlus has more about chloroquine.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Scripps Research Institute, news release, Dec. 20, 2007

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