“Patients with high grade brain tumors can expect to survive for little more than one more year, and that’s with the best available surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. There’s only one, very expensive drug available that can penetrate into the brain and attack the most aggressive tumors there, and nothing new on the horizon. For these patients, the outlook is as bleak as it can get. But ten years ago, researchers discovered that the out-of-fashion antidepressant drug clomipramine has apparently remarkable anti-tumor properties. What’s more the treatment costs pennies, not hundreds or thousands of dollars. Yet these scientists have struggled to find anyone to back their research. And many patients are being given the drug without the scientific proof it is really helping them. Why is such a promising treatment going to waste?”
-Gerry Northam, BBC Health Investigator
Dr. Timothy Bates, Senior Lecturer-University of Nottingham and Scientific Board Member with The Purple Society, has published multiple studies on using Tricyclic antidepressants in the treatment of high grade gliomas – the most common type of brain cancer. Studies by academics at three British universities also found that when treated with Tricyclic antidepressants, there was a reduced risk of glioma by up to two-thirds. Academics are excited because they say people at a genetically higher risk of cancer could be prescribed these drugs and people with current stages of glioma can utilize the drug to bring the disease to an *abrupt stop (*based on clinicians real life experience).
“The finding could also lead to the development of specifically designed pharmaceuticals to tackle bowel and brain cancer”, said Dr Tim Bates.
He explained that tricyclic antidepressants worked by attacking the “Achilles’ heel” of some cancer cells, their mitochondria. These are the chemical powerhouses that enable cells to function.
He said: “As cancer mitochondria are biochemically different from mitochondria in normal non-cancer cells, they represent an Achilles’ heel.”
“Tricyclic antidepressants appeared to interfere with the normal working of mitochondria in bowel and glioma cancer cells. The cancer prevention action of these drugs may translate into one that is also useful in treating glioma, both in adults and in children, and colorectal cancer.” Taking larger doses for longer increases the preventative effect, the researchers found.
To get the full extent of the studies as well at the opinion of many well established and respected doctors in the field, listen to the BBC segment below.
Listen to Dr. Bates interview last week with the BBC health investigator Gerry Northam
The research has been published in the British Journal of Cancer