Antipsychotic Drugs To Destroy Cancer Cells

It’s a fact that some cancers can survive on high cholesterol levels.  Ana Sandoiu composed an article that was fact checked by Jasmin Collier that there is new research that uses antipsychotic drugs to starve these cancer cells of cholesterol.

Certain malignancies depend on cholesterol to survive, according to some studies, and that high serum cholesterol levels can predict the risk of cancer.  There is a drug compound called leelamine that has shown through recent studies to delay tumor growth in melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.  Scientists at the Pennsylvania State University Cancer Institute in Hershey, led by Omer Kuzau, a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology, planned to stop the movement of cholesterol within the treatment-resistant cancer cells.  In order to accomplish this they turned to a class of drugs called functional inhibitors of acid sphingomyelinase (FIASMAs).  About 42 FIASMAs were tested that were antipsychotics or antidepressants and their effects were compared with those of leelamine.  Their findings can be found in the British Journal of Cancer.

They originally tested the drugs in cell cultures, then in mouse models of melanoma.  Of the drugs tested, perphenazine and fluphenazine were just as effective as leelamine at killing the cancer cells.

These drugs were administered orally to the mice and then monitored the size and weight of their tumors.  The size and weight of the malignancies were reduced in only the high doses of perphenazine and made the rodents sleepy.  It accomplished this by shutting down cholesterol metabolism in the cancer cells but the drug concentrations required to be successfully led to sedative effects and loss of animal weight as the mice were not eating but sleeping.  Nanoparticles made of lipids, or fay, called nanoliposomes to deliver the drug were used to bypass these side effects.

When given intravenously, the mini drug carriers destroyed the tumors without causing so many side effect as the nanoparticles cannot permeate the blood-brain barrier.  This suggests disruption of intercellular cholesterol transport by targeting ASM could be used as a potential chemotherapeutic approach for treating cancers.

Medical News Today also reported on another study finding that a defunct antipsychotic drug can enhance chemotherapy.  Gavin Robertson, senior study author and director of the Penn State Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center says that this drug could be the first of a new class that disrupts the movement of cholesterol in cancer cells and inhibits disease development.  Robertson said that “this could lead to the repurposing of perphenazine to perform a new function in human medicine by encapsulating it into a nanoparticle, which reduces its capability of entering the brain so it can perform its new function to prevent cancer.”  Results have been mixed on the trials of antipsychotics in the fight against different types of cancer.  Delivering via nanoliposomes could make the compounds safer and more effective.

Dr Fredda Branyon