Old Weapons for a New Battle: Repurposing Drugs to Stem Cancer’s Rising Tide
Cancer spread - caused by cancer stem cells - is responsible for over 90% of all cancer deaths but current treatments target only cancer cells, not the cancer stem cells themselves. Dr Swee Tan ONZM and his Wellington based team have identified cancer stem cells in numerous types of cancer, and a common regulatory system - the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) that comes with cancer stem cells. Their work has resulted in a novel cancer treatment approach using old weapons, targeting cancer stem cells by manipulation of the RAS using a combination of commonly available low-cost oral medications. Their findings, and the promising results from a clinical trial for glioblastoma, the most deadly form of brain cancer, have the potential to create a paradigm shift in our approach to cancer treatment and its availability irrespective of economic means.