Cancer Research UK says an old anti-malaria drug could be repurposed as a cancer therapy. In pre-clinical studies, this drug increases oxygen levels in tumors, making them easier to treat with radiotherapy.
Atovaquone has been on the market since 2000 as part of an anti-malarial drug. It is also commercialized by GSK under the name Mepron for certain types of pneumonia. However, as its patent has already expired it’s also cheaply available from generic manufacturers.
This small molecule drug may now have a new role in Medicine – as a booster of radiotherapy to treat a broad range of cancers. Well, according to promising pre-clinical results obtained by Cancer Research UK.
In a work now published in Nature Communications, research shows that atovaquone has potential to stop tumors from having a low-oxygen environment (hypoxia) during radiotherapy.
When a tumor has low levels of oxygen, it can more easily repair the DNA damage caused by radiotherapy –