Cancer treatment can be benefited by a breakthrough in research that indicates ribavirin, which is in frequent use as an anti-viral drug, could help fight the disease.
A study was conducted by a team led by Dr Katherine Borden at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Universite de Montreal and published in the first edition of the journal Blood.
It found that ribavirin inhibits the eIF4E gene, which in 30 per cent of colon, stomach, breast, prostate, head and neck is "dysregulated".
Dr Borden commented: "Our results are the first to show that targeting eIF4E in humans is clinically beneficial."
She added that another advantage of the treatment was that it does not have any side effects.
Dr Wilson Miller is director of the Clinical Research Unit at Jewish General Hospital and co-investigator in the trial.
He commented: "It's rare that discoveries in basic research move to clinical so quickly and successfully."
Ribavirin is often administered to combat DNA and RNA viruses.