An antidepressant could be crucial in helping cancer treatment drugs reach their full potential, according to new research.
The study by scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research found that tranylcypromine (TCP) – which can be used to treat psychotic depressive states - can make cancer cells vulnerable to the effects of a vitamin A-derivative drug called ATRA.
ATRA is already used successfully to treat a rare form of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), but up until now, has not been effective against other types of the disease.
The drug works be creating conditions which expedite the maturity of cancer cells, meaning they die naturally in a quicker timeframe, but AML cells often have a molecular block, which can be bypassed with the use of TCP.
"We think this is a very promising strategy and if these findings can be replicated in patients the potential benefits are enormous," said senior author Arthur Zelent.