Diabetes drug now shown to help fight skin cancer

Tue, 10 Apr 2012
Following previous studies that suggesting the diabetes drug metformin can help reduce the development of certain cancers, new research from the University of Manchester has claimed that it can also help to reduce the growth of skin cancer if taken in combination with the drug Avastin (also known as bevacizumab).

The study, which was reported in the journal Cancer Discovery, revealed in laboratory experiments that treating aggressive skin cancer in mice could suppress tumour growth by 34 per cent using only Avastin. However, when it was combined with metformin, tumour growth was shown to be lessened by 64 per cent.

In addition, when metformin was used alone to treat melanoma cells, which are known to be the most aggressive type of skin cancer, they grew faster, as the drug caused melanoma cells with a BRAF mutation - which is found in over two thirds of all melanomas - to form new blood vessels and increase tumour growth.

Lead researcher Richard Marais commented "Our results are surprising because combining metformin with drugs such as Avastin has a much greater effect in suppressing tumour growth than would be expected when looking at the effect of either drug on its own. If we can now show this effect holds true in patients, it could help overcome the resistance we often see in skin cancer patients."
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