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Existing parasite drug may fight prostate, colon cancer

New research has found evidence to suggest that nitazoxanide, a substance contained in antiparasitic drugs, could be effective in deterring the growth of prostate and colon cancer cells.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is the second most common cancer type among men in the United States. Prostate cancer makes up 9.6 percent of all new cancer cases in the U.S., while colorectal cancer accounts for 8 percent of all newly diagnosed cases in the country.

In the case of both prostate and colon cancer, the dysregulation of a cellular signaling pathway called Wnt (wingless)/Beta-catenin signaling can lead to the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.

Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway have recently been looking to explore the potential of already-available drugs to interact with and inhibit this cancer cell proliferation.

Prof. Karl-Henning Kalland and his team have now isolated a substance called nitazoxanide (NTZ), contained in existing antiparasitic drugs, as potentially effective against cancer cell growth.

We discovered that this specific substance is blocking the signaling pathway in the cancer cells, and [making] them stop growing. It is not often that researchers discover a substance that targets specific molecules as precisely as this one.”

Prof. Karl-Henning Kalland

The study’s findings were recently published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

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