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Czech-led team discovers anti-cancer properties in drug

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Olomouc, North Moravia, Dec 7 (CTK) – An international research team led by Czechs from the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine (UMTM) of Olomouc’s Palacky University, discovered cancer suppressing properties in disulfiram, an old alcohol-aversion drug, the university staff told CTK on Thursday.

Czech scientists led by Jiri Bartek and other researchers from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and Canada, a total of 30, took part in the research.

“The work is based in an epidemiological study on Danish patients, who were undergoing alcohol addiction treatment and in whom cancer was also diagnosed. It was concluded that those patients who continued to use disulfiram after being diagnosed with cancer, were at a significantly lower risk of dying than those who stopped using it,” the university staff told CTK.

The UMTM’s scientists found out that disulfiram, also known by the trade name Antabuse, in combination with copper, was metabolised in the human body to another substance, which accumulated in the tumorous cells and tied with the NLP4 protein, causing its immobilisation and loss of function. The research of the active metabolite of the disulfiram drug was a breakthrough discovery, they said.

The research into disulfiram effects continues and is being verified in a clinical study performed by the UMTM’s scientists and the Olomouc University Hospital. The current study is open to patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Disulfiram has been used for decades as an alcohol aversion drug, helping to maintain abstinence from alcohol to those who want refrain from using it. Originally, it was used to treat intestinal infections.

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