Common antidepressant may halt childhood cancer growth, study suggests

The antidepressant drug paroxetine led to a significant reduction in childhood sarcoma tumor growth after being used to treat cancer cells in a mouse model study, according to research published Nov. 6 in Cancer Research

Researchers from Karolinska Institute in Sweden and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found the insulin-like growth factor receptor, also known as IGF1R, a receptor that plays a key role in many cancers, shares characteristics with G protein-coupled receptors, also known as GCPRs, which are the receptors targeted by many existing drugs used to treat conditions like allergies, depression and anxiety. The commonalities between the two groups of receptors indicated that drugs used to target GPCRs might also be able to affect the function of the IGF1R. 

Paroxetine, which targets a receptor in the GPCR family, ultimately suppressed tumor growth in childhood sarcoma cells by significantly decreasing the number of IGF1R receptors on malignant cells.

“Although this study was done in mice and we do not yet know how translatable the results are to humans, it gives us hope for repurposing common drugs for young cancer patients desperately requiring better treatment options,” Caitrín Crudden, PhD, study author and former PhD student in Karolinska Institute’s department of oncology-pathology, said in a news release

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