New Uses


Anchor lead: Could an existing drug be repurposed to treat cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Metformin, a drug long used to treat diabetes, might be helpful for some cancers, a recent report states, with the recommendation that investigating drug libraries may yield some great therapeutics. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says, well maybe.

Nelson: The real value the drug repurposing, I believe, is in a modern era where you can think about targets that have been credentialed to participate in the way cancer cells work. To build a new drug for that target, even get it into clinical trials takes usually on the order of 18 months and costs between eight to twelve million dollars, and so one attractive notion is that you then looked at the target and say is there any drug that’s out there, perhaps not as its primary effect but has some effect that hits the target in the same way you’d want to make a drug.  :31

Nelson says both basic science approaches and searches of drug libraries will help. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.