To what lengths will the pharmaceutical companies go to make us more addicted to their junk medicine?
Researchers in Britain have found that the commonly used drug suppresses tumour growth by as much as 90 per cent and could be used to boost the effectiveness of other cancer fighting treatments.
And because it has already been tested, it should mean that it could be available for use far more quickly than new drugs that have to go through numerous safety trials.
The team at the University of Birmingham found that the active ingredients from Prozac, medical name fluoxetine, could bring on apoptosis (a kind of natural death) in cancer cells cultivated in the laboratory.
Further trials on actual live tissue – blood with leukaemia – showed that it dramatically reduced tumour growth by up to 90 per cent.
Now they believe clinical trials on humans will see the results replicated in real cancer patients.
“We were thrilled to see these results,” said Professor Barnes. “It shows a real opportunity to maintain the pressure on tumours in between chemotherapy cycles.”
The findings, published in the journal Leukaemia Research, showed that both Prozac (Fluoxetine) and another antidepressant Chlomipramine were effective against cancer cells in leukaemia and lymphoma patients.
Professor Nick Barnes, one of the study leaders, believes that by using the drug along with traditional chemotherapy survival rates could be dramatically improved.
One of the big problems with chemotherapy is that it is so powerful that treatments have to be done in cycles as the drugs are so damaging to healthy cells as well as cancer cells.
That means cancer cells have the ability to regroup and spread in-between treatments. Prozac could be used to “keep a lid” on cancer growth between cycles.
Ken Campbell, a spokesman for the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “This research holds the promise of safe, less toxic treatments for the most common group of blood cancers.
“This, combined with many years of experience in treating patients with these drugs, means that doctors can be confident that the treatment will not cause significant effects on normal tissues and is safe for virtually all patients.”