Finnish researchers have identified a new antibiotic called 'monensin' that could slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. Monensin antibiotic is used in meat and dairy industry.
Evidence pointing to the effects of monensin emerged in a project investigating the effects of nearly 5,000 drugs and micro molecules on the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Scientists from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Turku found that the antibiotic, combined with small amounts of the compounds disulfiram (Antabus), thiram, and tricostatin A, slowed prostate cancer cell growth without interfering with normal prostate tissue.
In studies, the monensin compound was also found to kill prostate cancer cells by reducing testosterone receptor and by increasing production of reactive oxygen species and inducing DNA damage.
In addition, monensin was shown to have combined effects with anti-androgens - the drugs suppressing the effects of androgens - in preventing prostate cancer cell growth.
"These research findings give rise to a potential new use for the monensin. The results also demonstrate that the effects of anti-androgens in suppressing the growth of cancer cells can be enhanced by using drugs inducing production of reactive oxygen species," said senior researchers Kristiina Iljin from VTT and Kirsi Ketola from the University of Turku.
The findings are published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journal in December 2010.