Researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University
of Turku have demonstrated that an antibiotic called “monensin” prevents the
growth of prostate cancer cells. Monensin is used in the meat and dairy
industry, for example.
Evidence pointing to the effects of monensin emerged in a project
investigating the effects of nearly 5,000 drugs and micromolecules on the
growth of prostate cancer cells. The project involved most of the drugs on the
market today. Researchers found that small amounts of compounds – disulfiram
(Antabus), thiram, tricostatin A, and monensin – can prevent the growth of
prostate cancer cells without significant effects on the growth of the normal
human prostate epithelial cells.
Further studies revealed
that monensin caused prostate cancer cell death by reducing the amount of
testosterone receptor and by increasing production of reactive oxygen species
and inducing DNA damage. In addition, monensin was shown to have combined
effects with anti-androgens – the drugs suppressing the effects of androgens –
in preventing prostate cancer cell growth.
findings give rise to a potential new use for the monensin. The results also
demonstrate that the effects of anti-androgens in suppressing the growth of
cancer cells can be enhanced by using drugs inducing production of reactive
oxygen species”, say Senior Research Scientist Kristiina Iljin from VTT and
Research Scientist Kirsi Ketola from the University of Turku.
research findings concerning the effects of drugs and micromolecules were
published in the Clinical Cancer Research journal in 2009. The effects of
monensin on preventing the growth of prostate cancer was published in the
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journal in December 2010.
medical companies have shown great interest in these kinds of projects aiming
at finding novel indications for established drugs. Since the dosage and
adverse effects of drugs already in use and their combined effects with other
drugs are relatively well known, this kind of drug repositioning may result in
considerable cost savings.
Prostate cancer is the second most
common cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. It has been estimated
that globally about 300,000 men die from prostate cancer every year.
Media material: effects of monensin