In a world where new drugs are developed all the time, it may seem strange that some old drugs are still in use. But in the case of bowel cancer, some old drugs are offer new ways of treating the disease.
One such drug is 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), which was first developed in the 1950s. 5-FU is still used today, often in combination with other drugs, as a first-line treatment for bowel cancer.
Recent studies have shown that 5-FU can be more effective when used in combination with the drug bevacizumab (Avastin). Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the growth of new blood vessels, which can help to starve tumours of the oxygen and nutrients they need to grow.
In one study, the use of 5-FU and bevacizumab was shown to improve the chances of surviving for at least five years by around 10% compared to 5-FU alone.
Another old drug that is showing promise in the treatment of bowel cancer is capecitabine (Xeloda). Capecitabine is a prodrug of 5-fluorouracil, which means that it is converted into 5-FU in the body.
Capecitabine is sometimes used in combination with oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) to treat bowel cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. In one study, the use of capecitabine and oxaliplatin was shown to increase the chances of surviving for at least five years by around 11% compared to capecitabine alone.
There are many other old drugs that are being investigated for their potential use in the treatment of bowel cancer. This just goes to show that even though a drug may be old, it can still offer new ways of treating disease.
Old drugs offer new ways of treating bowel cancer
A new study has found that old drugs could offer a new way of treating bowel cancer. The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found that a class of drugs known as HDAC inhibitors could be effective in treating a type of bowel cancer known as microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) cancer.
MSI-H cancer is a type of cancer that is caused by a mutation in a gene that is responsible for repairing DNA mistakes. This type of cancer is often resistant to standard chemotherapy drugs, making it difficult to treat.
However, the new study found that HDAC inhibitors were effective in killing MSI-H cancer cells in the laboratory. The researchers hope that this finding could lead to the development of new, effective treatments for MSI-H cancer in the future.