Prozac is regularly prescribed to ease the emotional pain of patients who are being treated for cancer. But can this common anti-depressant help to fight cancer itself?
Dr. Dan Peer of the Department of Cell Research and Immunology at Tel Aviv University is proving that it can. A study he and his colleagues recently completed validates that Prozac (chemical name fluoxetine) dramatically enhances the effectiveness of a widely used anti-cancer drug.
"The good news is that the medical community won't have to wait Prozac can be used for this purpose right away," says Dr. Peer, noting that doctors in the U.S. already prescribe it to treat depression in chemotherapy patients.
Fighting Drug Resistance in Colon Cancer Patients
"Prozac is a very interesting non-specific blocker of cancer resistance," says Dr. Peer, whose study focused on colon cancer and the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin.
In their laboratory experiments, the Tel Aviv University scientists led by graduate student Mirit Argov together with Prof. Rimona Margalit, found that Prozac enhanced doxorubicin's efficacy more than 1,000%. Prozac, in effect, worked to block the cancer drug from leaving the interior of the cancer cell and poisoning the healthy non-cancerous cells that surrounded it.
In animal models, a mild doxorubicin-fluoxetine treatment combination slowed down tumor progression significantly. These results suggest that pairing Prozac with chemotherapeutic drugs to curb drug resistance warrants further clinical study, says Dr. Peer. His research was just published in Cancer Letters, and his suggestions are now listed as recommendations in the latest version of Cancer Encyclopedia.
Working Backward to Make Great Advances
"Working with a major drug developer, we have validated Prozac's potential, and now Tel Aviv University can lead a humanitarian effort to save lives around the globe," he says. <
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University