Malaria Medication May Offer New Treatment for Cancer
Malaria medicine has been around for centuries, but according to recent research, some antipaludian medications can be utilized to treat cancer (at least some types of it) as well. Two of the key ingredients in common malaria medications are Chloroquine (CQ) and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), but according to a study conducted at the University of Leuven in Belgium, these substances might also have potential to treat cancer patients.
The research collected and reviewed the data from approximately 190 studies that examined how CQ and HCQ tend to affect the cells of cancer by increasing the sensitivity of tumors to existing treatments. The new findings come at a time when more effective cancer treatments are badly needed.
Even though cases of cancer have been slightly decreasing in recent years, cancer cells are also becoming more resistant to existing treatment options. The researchers at the University of Leuven believe that Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine may have the solution. After analyzing the results of various cancer-related studies, they believe that they may be able to turn CQ and HCQ into anti-cancer agents.
For example, the team has already found evidence indicating that CQ and HCQ can be used to tackle certain types of brain cancer as well as pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. As the researchers claim, CQ and HCQ seem to inhibit autophagy, a process wherein cells that eliminates their own damaged and unnecessary components. Among cancer patients, however, autophagic properties can often increase the survival rate of cancer cells, especially against conventional treatments. By suppressing autophagy, CQ and HCQ offer a practical anti-cancer strategy. When cancer cells can no longer depend on autophagy to sustain them, they become more vulnerable to traditional anti-cancer treatments used nowadays.
Another positive feature of CQ and HCQ is that they can block CXCL12 and CXCR4, signaling pathways, both of which are associated with cancer. By blocking these pathways, CQ and HCQ can weaken or at least slow down the growth of cancer cells, which renders them more vulnerable to existing treatments.
Finally, studies conducted on Chloroquine seem to indicate that it can help strengthen proteins in the body that help to suppress tumors and other related illness. This, in turn, leads to several benefits, including lower risk of tumor hypoxia, lower cancer cell metastasis and extravasation as well as improved chemotherapeutic drug delivery and response.
Although research into the anti-cancer properties of malaria medications is still not finished, the researchers at the University of Leuven are confident that their findings may lead to new and more effective treatments for most types of cancer.