Anti-Parasitic Drug Found to Also Kill Colon and Prostate Cancer Cells
등록일 2019년 01월 07일 월요일
수정일 2017년 11월 20일 월요일

Antiviral medication / Photo by: Malcolm Koo via Wikimedia Commons

Medications used to treat parasitic and viral infections have been found capable of killing prostate and colon cancer cells.The study was performed by the cancer researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway.

The researchers who are experienced with different types of drugs studied the influence of these medications on cancer cells.They found that a chemical in a drug used to treat parasites such as Giardia lamblia and tapeworms can be personalized to treat colon and prostate cancers.

The chemical is called nitazoxanide, an approved broad-spectrum antiparasitic and broad-spectrum antiviral.NTZ destroys cancer cells by obstructing the activated beta-catenin, a protein found in our body.Beta-catenin is a proto-oncogene that can mutate which leads to the development of many cancer types.Cancers, such primary hepatocellular carcinoma, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer, are some known to have the beta-catenin genetic mutation.

The researchers found that colon and prostate cancer cells are abundant with activated beta-catenin.The activation gives these abnormal cells the ability to multiply very rapidly, with a higher chance of survivability and resistance to cancer medications.So when NTZ obstructs the protein, the effect stimulates the major parts of the immune system, such as the thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen, to send antibodies and white blood cells to attack the cancer cells.

"We discovered that this specific substance is blocking the signaling pathway in the cancer cells, and make them stop growing.It is not often that researchers discover a substance that targets specific molecules as precisely as this one," said Karl-Henning Kalland, a professor at the Department of Clinical Science at UiB.

Kalland also said that experimenting with well-known and approved drugs is easier because they already know how it works in the human body.Also, they are aware of the side effects of the approved drugs compared to unknown drugs.The researchers are now enhancing their immune therapy based on NTZ for the treatment of prostate cancer.


NTZ is used as a treatment of various infections caused by parasitic worms, protozoans, and viruses.It is primarily used to treat infections caused by Blastocystis species of parasites, Cryptosporidium parvum, and Giardia lamblia.It can also be used to treat amoebiasis, dwarf tapeworms, roundworms, and cyclosporiasis.

The drug is currently in several clinical studies to treat other diseases:

- In September 2015, NTZ has reached phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of influenza.The drug has been found with an inhibitory effect on a wide array of influenza virus subtypes.It was also found to be effective against influenza viruses resistant to neuraminidase inhibitors.

- Research studies about NTZ showed its potential to treat chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, and norovirus and rotavirus gastroenteritis.

Nitazoxanide may cause side effects, such as a headache, upset stomach, and vomiting.Skin rashes and itching are considered serious side effects of the drug.Before taking NTZ, patients must notify their physicians about other medications being taken, such as anticoagulants, supplements, and herbal products.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the cancer of the large intestine or the final part of the digestive tract.Typically, tumors in the colon start as small and benign clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps.Screening tests can help determine if any polyps are malignant or cancerous.Symptoms of colon cancer include a change in the bowel habits, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, persistent discomfort in the abdomen like cramps or pain, weight loss, weakness, and the feeling that the bowel did not empty completely.

An estimated 135,430 new cases and 50,260 deaths will be caused by colon and rectal cancers this year.The most common reason why people die from colorectal cancer is the lack of screening tests.About 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could have been prevented with screening.Research studies suggested that the lack of healthcare access to most people led to the increase of new cases and deaths from the disease.

Photo by: A Healthier Michigan via Flickr

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and stays within the prostate gland.Usually, the cancer remains in the prostate gland for several years, causing no serious harm.But some types of prostate cancer are aggressive and can spread quickly to the other parts of the body.According to the Mayo Clinic, early detection of prostate cancer while it is still inside the gland has a higher chance of successful treatment.Symptoms of prostate cancer include urination problems, blood in semen, discomfort or pain in the pelvic area, erectile dysfunction, and decreased force in the stream of urine.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancer types in men.An estimated 161,360 new cases and 26,730 deaths will be caused by prostate cancer in the US, according to the American Cancer Society.It is an age-dependent cancer that usually strikes men with ages 75 or higher.However, certain risk factors, such as family history, diet, and lifestyle, can speed up the development of prostate cancer.

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