In a recent study, it was found that metformin, a drug used in treating diabetics has a potential side effect which fortunately is the greatest blessing for mankind. The drug has an ability to obstruct the energy synthesis pathway for the cancerous cell, leading to apoptosis.
A side effect in pharmacology, but a blessing in medical science.
Often when we hear the word ‘side effect’ that cringe that we show, might be enough to understand how undesirable such an adjacent action is. However, there is one drug whose side effects ultimately turned out to be a blessing for medical science, who were tirelessly working to make something similar. Metformin is the hero drug we are talking about, whose potential side effect is that ‘it will kill cancer’!
Sounds so ironical, but how efficient this drug is?
According to the study, there are no secondary side effects for treating cancer. In fact, metformin is one of few drugs with notably least to no side effects. Compared to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs, metformin is very less toxic and didn’t exhibit any high-grade or lethal side effects other than few low-grade effects including stomach upset. According to the study, metformin at half dose (given to diabetic patients) resulted in a drastic change in head and neck tumors which aided the easy elimination of such tumors.
About the study
To study the effect of metformin on cancer, research team gathered 39 non-diabetic volunteers, who were administered half the dose of metformin given to diabetic patients. During the examination phase, researchers carefully monitored for the presence of cell death markers and changes in the metabolic pathway of cancer cells. Some important observations were made by scientists, the first one was that there is a significant cancerous cell apoptosis or death and the second was that there is a significant deterioration in the supporting fibroblasts which would speed up the cell death.
Future of metformin in cancer treatment.
The study almost revealed the effect of the drug in obstructing the energy synthesis pathway. Compared to existing medication, metformin shall be called the ‘safest’ for treating cancer. However, this study has just given a decent outline on how effective the diabetic drug in treating neck and head tumor. However, more clinical studies might be needed in order to draw a conclusion and improve the drug for cancer treatment, exclusively. But with the clear cut idea on the pharmacokinetics, it is just matter of a few years to bring something groundbreaking in the cancer therapy. In the 2nd phase studies, scientists will probably see how the change in dose affects the efficacy, which will be a volunteer intense process.
Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.055