Recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, research from the McMaster University demonstrated that Metformin, a drug prescribed to help manage and treat type II diabetes additionally halts the growth of lung cancer cells and makes them more likely to be killed by radiotherapy.
Metformin, in addition to treating diabetes, was found to have an effect on non-small lung cancer cell defense mechanisms, which are usually quite resilient to radiotherapy.
Normally, lung cancer cells quickly adapt to the threat of radiotherapy by switching to a survival state that makes them resistant to treatment and in many cases, encourages growth.
By researching cancerous cells in mice, the McMaster research team discovered that metformin actually reversed the defense mechanics, making the cells susceptible to radiotherapy once again. Researchers additionally observed these results using the same doses already being used to manage diabetes.
By enhancing the destruction-detection signals sent between cancerous cells in a response to therapy, which effectively over-rides the preservative and basic survival mechanisms. By preventing these signals the cells are prevented from growth and will eventually lead to the cell’s death.
Dr. Tsakiridis, study author commented: "Our study shows that the diabetes drug metformin can stop lung cancer cells from growing and makes them more sensitive to treatment by radiotherapy. We're now working with other institutions to develop a clinical trial that will investigate metformin in lung cancer patients treated with radiotherapy. If we can prove that this works in patients then we could have a potentially powerful weapon in the fight against the disease."