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Every year, significant investments are being made to develop new cancer treatments. But an international research team has discovered a cheap source of new therapies.
The researchers investigated how well different treatments worked against cancer where the tumors spread in the body, known as metastases. Then they also tested medicines that are not included in cancer treatments at all but are used against, among other things, heart disease, depression, and parasitic diseases.
The result was that the researchers could identify over a dozen such drugs that were also effective against cancerous tumors. By combining different drugs, the researchers succeeded in limiting the spread of cancer cells in breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
A significant advantage of using existing medicines is that they are already approved. We know what side effects they might have. The researchers only tested drugs that do not harm the body. Therefore, they can be used as a supplement to, for example, cytotoxic medicines without increasing the strain on the body.
It's also much faster to get a finished medicine approved for a new purpose than to go through all the tests that an entirely new medicine requires to pass.
So far, these are laboratory tests, but if the results stand up in clinical trials, we may have another weapon in the arsenal against cancer. The researchers will now test more medicines for other diseases to see if they can find drugs that also work against other cancers than the three types they have tried for so far.