A common medication for diabetes, combined with a drug against high blood pressure, is able to inhibit the growth of tumorese induce the death of cancer cells by turning off their energy supply, researchers have revealed Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland).
In a follow-up study published in the journal Cell Reports, the scientists conclude that the combination of the two drugs blocks a critical step in energy production, ultimately leading to a power shortage, which ultimately leads to that cancer cells kill themselves.
Metformin, a widely used diabetes medication, not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the dose commonly used in the treatment of diabetes is too low to inhibit cancer growth.
Metformin and syrosingopine
A previous study of the same research already showed that the antihypertensive drug syrosingopine increases the anticancer efficacy of metformin.
Cancer cells have high energy demands due to their higher metabolic needs and their rapid growth. A limiting factor to meet this demand is the NAD + molecule, which is key to the conversion of nutrients into energy.
“To keep the power generating machinery running, NAD + must be generated continuously from NADH Interestingly, both metformin and syrosingopine prevent the regeneration of NAD +, but in two different ways,” explains the study’s first author, Don Benjamin.
Many tumor cells change their metabolism towards glycolysis, which means that they generate energy mainly through the decomposition of glucose into lactic acid. Since the accumulation of this chemical compound leads to a blockage of the glycolytic pathway, cancer cells eliminate lactic acid by exporting it from the cell through specific transporters.
“Now we have discovered that syrosingopine efficiently blocks the two most important lactic acid transporters and, therefore, inhibits their export, and high concentrations of intracellular lactic acid, in turn, prevent NADH from being recycled into NAD +.” Benjamin points.
Distefar echoes this news that manages to inhibit the growth of tumors.