a team of US scientists at the Dana-Farber
Cancer Institute have successfully
managed to slow down the growth of pancreatic tumor in mice.
This drug was originally developed to treat malaria. Later scientists discovered its mild suppressing activity on the immune system and began using hydroxychloroquine in autoimmune diseases. As immune system suppressants inhibit the process of autophagy which is elevated in cancer patients, researchers showed interest in the drug. Autophagy is a process which helps the cells to survive or adapt to treatments like chemotherapy by helping the cells convert non-critical proteins into nutrients. In early laboratory tests it was revealed that the drug decreased growth among the tumor cells, which suggests that the cells further rely on autophagy for their growth.
These results have been encouraging and led to the opening of two new clinical trials in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.