The diabetes drug metformin, used in conjunction with the chemo drug doxorubicin, effectively eliminated cancer stem cells in laboratory tests at the Harvard Medical School, according to research published online September 14 in the journal Cancer Research. Cancer stem cells are thought to initiate tumors; they are resistant to standard cancer treatment.
Researchers studied four genetically different cancer types, including triple negative, and determined that the drug combination eliminated existing tumors and prevented regrowth; neither drug alone was effective against the cancer cells.
As a result of this tests, clinical trials are being planned on the use of metformin and doxorubicin in women with early stage breast cancer. Enrollment of patients may begin next year.
Source: Hirsch, Heather A., Iliopoulos, Dimitrios, Tsichlis, Philip N., Struhl, Kevin
Metformin Selectively Targets Cancer Stem Cells, and Acts Together with Chemotherapy to Block Tumor Growth and Prolong Remission
Cancer Res 2009 0: 0008-5472.CAN-09-2994