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Why such a Common Drug as Metformin can Kill Brain Tumors?

According to recent research from the Imperial College Research Centre:

"Preliminary findings at our lab show that metformin combined with current novel therapeutic strategies identified in the lab kills patient derived brain tumor cells more effectively. We believe it does this by altering metabolism to hinder the growth of the tumor cells. We still need to do more work but these are very promising early results.”

Cancer cells depend on glucose metabolism and hence metformin which is commonly used to treat diabetes type 2, has the potential to assist in lowering the glucose and therefore to starve cancer cells. According to many independent experiments and published papers metformin has been shown to inhibit glioblastomas growth both in vitro and in vivo, alone or in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.

Metformin is soluble in water and has the following chemical structure:

Metformin was initially developed as an antiviral drug, but had poor results for this purpose. It was not until the 1950’s that Metformin was studied for diabetes management. In 1994, it was approved by FDA, and it was brought to the market by BMS on March 1995. It is not metabolized in the body, and 90% of it, is excreted with urine. The most serious side effect of Metformin is lactic acidosis (if there are any renal problems). However, Metformin itself does not cause kidney damage nor does it cause lactic acidosis. In 2008, a study suggested that Metformin could reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Famous scientist James Watson revealed during a lecture that he is taking metformin as a preventative measure for cancer.


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