An antifungal medication commonly prescribed to treat toenail infections helped eliminate dormant cells within bowel tumors in mice.
Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute found that itraconazole effectively halts the growth and progression of certain types of colorectal cancer. Their findings were published Thursday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
“We’ve targeted a type of cell that lies asleep within bowel tumors, remaining unresponsive to treatment and putting the patient at risk of their cancer coming back,” said co-lead author Simon Buczack, a clinician scientist at the British cancer institute.
“What’s interesting is that this drug seems to kick both dormant and non-dormant cells into action,” Buczacki said. “It forces cells back into a short cycle of growth before slamming on an irreversible ‘stop’ button, entering a permanent standstill that’s known as senescence.”