Antiviral Drug Ribavirin Treats 30 Percent of Cancer Types
A commonly used antiviral drug shows promise for treatment of thirty percent of cancer types, according to a large clinic trial conducted on patients in Canada. The antiviral drug ribavirin is shown to be effective for suppressing gene dysregulation in patients with prostate, breast, colon, stomach, head neck cancer.
Dr. Katherine Borden, at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, led the study. Dr. Borden and colleagues found that ribavirin suppresses activity of the eIF4E gene, which is dysregulated in thirty percent of cancers. The results show much promise for cancer treatment, and is considered a ground breaking study.
The research was a collaboration of two teams. Dr. Sarit Assouline of the Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital, conducted the clinical trial, and Dr. Borden’s team monitored patient events during the study. The collaboration allowed testing of the antiviral drug to move forward quickly. The study shows that ribavirin dramatically improves outcomes in patients, including partial and complete cancer remission.
Investigator Dr. Wilson Miller, director of the Clinical Research Unit, Jewish General Hospital says, “It's rare that discoveries in basic research move to clinical so quickly and successfully." The scientists studied the effects of ribavirin on patients with acute myeloid leukemia who had failed other treatments. The authors write, "We had striking clinical improvements with even partial and complete remissions.”
Dr. Borden says the next challenge is to combine the promising antiviral drug with chemotherapy to improve its effectiveness, and combat the development of resistance to the drug. Borden says the antiviral drug ribavirin is likely to show promise for other types of cancer associated with dysregulation of the eIF4E gene, as suggested by the studies. Combining chemotherapy with the antiviral drug ribavirin may result in complete remission in thirty percent of cancers.
Abstract at Blood Journal