A molecule used for decades to treat chronic alcoholism could prove useful in the fight against neuroblastoma, a potentially deadly brain tumor in children.
Through advanced pharmacological screening, researcher Noel Reynal and his team at the CHU Stejustine Research Center in Montreal began tracking disulfiram, whose anticancer effects had already been reported by other researchers. .
“Among the pediatric lines we have in the lab, neuroblastoma cells actually appeared to be the most sensitive of all the cells we tested to the anticancer effects of disulfiram. ” said Reynal.
He says disulfiram can help fight chronic alcoholism by blocking the action of an enzyme that may also be important for cancer cells.
Disulfiram is thought to weaken cancer-promoting genes through neuroblastoma cells, thereby reducing the cells’ ability to proliferate, he said.
Other researchers have previously been interested in disulfiram’s anticancer effects, particularly for fighting breast and lung cancer.
In one study, a group of patients treated with standard chemotherapy who also received disulfiram lived longer than a group treated with chemotherapy alone, with no increase in toxicity.
However, neuroblastoma cells appear to be even more sensitive to the effects of this molecule than breast or lung cancer cells.
“We are very encouraged,” Reynal said.
Neuroblastoma most commonly occurs in infants and children. While some small patients can recover from this cancer with minimal treatment, others require extensive intervention with no guarantee of recovery. It is in the latter case that disulfiram may have the most benefit, he said.
But while disulfiram is a molecule that has been used for 70 years and its toxicity is well known, it will still be several years of research before it can be added to the arsenal against cancer, Reynal said. said.
The results of this study were published by Scientific Reports.
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