A popular anti-fungal drug slows tumours in mice and should be investigated as a cheap way of fighting cancer in people, researchers have claimed.
While not wiping out the condition completely, itraconazole, marketed under the name Sporanox by Janssen Pharmaceutica, may boost the potency of other treatments by acting on a molecular pathway linked to the development of cancer.
Scientists at Stanford University looked at 2,400 different approved treatments that acted on the so-called Hedgehog pathway, finding that itraconazole was the least toxic.
The drug was then tested on mice, with the study finding that an oral form of the drug significantly slowed the growth of tumours injected under the skin.
Dr Philip Beachy, who worked on the study, claimed the treatment could soon be used on people.
He said: “It might be possible with two compounds to achieve a more potent block at even lower drug concentrations. If so, it’s possible that there is a population of patients that can be treated relatively soon.”
The results were published in the journal Cancer Cell.
Copyright Press Association 2010