Drugs Do Double Duty

Drugs Do Double Duty

A team of cancer researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have found a new use for an old medicine—unveiling an antipsychotic drug’s potential as a cancer treatment when used in combination with another medication commonly used to treat lung cancer.

The work highlights how drugs approved for one purpose by the Food and Drug Administration can prove effective treatments for other conditions. This concept of drug repurposing is gaining increasing interest in medicine because of the high costs of new drug development.

“Because of the financial constraints and length of time it takes to bring new drugs through clinical trials, scientists are moving toward using existing drugs in new ways to accelerate the process,” says Goutham Narla, MD, PhD, a medical geneticist at the School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

His research shows combining trifluoperazine, a medication used to treat schizophrenia, and erlotinib, a targeted cancer drug, reduced the size of lung cancer cells in biological models of the disease more than either drug alone.

The team hopes to begin human trials of the medication combination within the year.