Antidiabetic drug could combat cancer drug resistance

Adding an antidiabetic drug to treatment with antiangiogenic multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors resulted in a reduction in tumour growth.

The research team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre from left, Miguel Quintela-Fandino, Maria J. Bueno, Ivana Zagorac and Silvana Mourón

Antiangiogenic drugs are effective in some cancers, where they help to reverse the tumour hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) that encourages tumour growth. However, treatment resistance is a serious problem. 

As reported in Cell Reports (online, 9 June 2016)[1]
, a team of researchers explored the mechanisms of resistance to antiangiogenic multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in mouse models of lung and breast cancer. 

They showed that when TKIs correct hypoxia, tumour cells downregulate glycolysis and become reliant on mitochondrial metabolism for energy and continued growth. Adding the antidiabetic drug phenformin, which is a mitochondrial blocker, to treatment resulted in a reduction in tumour growth. 

The team, from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, is now designing a phase I trial to explore the safety and efficacy of combined TKI and phenformin treatment.


[1] Navarro P, Bueno MJ, Zagorac I et al. Targeting tumor mitochondrial metabolism overcomes resistance to antiangiogenics. Cell Reports 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.052

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, July 2016, Vol 8, No 7;8(7):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201295

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