July 16, 2024

New Study: Repurposed Parkinson’s Drug Shows Promise for Brain Cancer Treatment

A recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern Medicine in the US has found that a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease could be effective in treating metastatic breast cancer and the brain metastases that often occur as a result. The drug, which has been discontinued for its original purpose, has shown potential as a novel therapeutic option in the fight against cancer.

Breast cancer is a major cause of brain metastases and is also the leading cause of cancer-related death in women across the globe. However, treating breast cancer brain metastases can be challenging due to the body’s protective blood-brain barrier (BBB), which often prevents drugs from reaching the cancer cells.

In their study, the researchers aimed to identify a drug that could cross the BBB and effectively kill cancer cells. After screening over 320 FDA-approved central nervous system small-molecule inhibitor drugs, the researchers discovered that metixene, a drug previously used for Parkinson’s treatment, had promising potential in treating various subtypes of metastatic breast cancer and brain metastases.

When administered to mice, metixene not only reduced the size of breast cancer tumors, but also increased the mice’s lifespan, even when there were multiple metastases in different organs or the brain. The researchers found that metixene induced incomplete autophagy, a process where cellular waste accumulates and is not recycled, leading to cell death or apoptosis in the cancer cells. The activation of the NDRG1 protein by metixene was responsible for this effect. Additionally, when the NDRG1 gene was knocked out using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, autophagy completion occurred, and the metixene apoptotic effect was reversed.

Lead author of the study, Jawad Fares, highlighted the significance of this research in addressing the clinical challenge of treating brain metastases, particularly in the context of breast cancer. Fares stated that the identification of metixene as a potential therapeutic agent offers hope for improving the quality of life and survival outcomes for patients with brain metastases, which is a common and serious complication of cancer.

In terms of clinical significance, metixene has shown minimal reported side effects in humans, making it a strong candidate for further investigation and potential use in clinical trials. Fares emphasized the importance of considering metixene for clinical translation, meaning further research and testing to determine its effectiveness in treating metastatic cancer and brain metastases.

Overall, the study highlights the potential of repurposed drugs in expanding the options for cancer treatment. By exploring new uses for existing medications, researchers may uncover effective therapies that could significantly improve patient outcomes and provide new hope in the fight against cancer.


1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it