Can Use Of Antidepressants Stop Progression Of Prostate Cancer?

Topic Overview

Recent research work conducted on the role of antidepressants in prostate cancer has made startling revelation that this class of drug has the potential to stall the progression of prostate cancer.  The researchers have found that a very old medication used for a long time for treating depression has ingredient that stops the prostate cancer from spreading to the bones which is the most common area where prostate cancer spreads.  In fact, metastasis to the bones of prostate cancer is the most common reason for fatalities among males suffering from prostate cancer.[1]

In fact, a study suggests that out of 10 fatal cases of prostate cancer metastasis has occurred to the bones in 9 of them. Scientists believe that they have now found the mechanism as to how the cancer cells are able to infiltrate the skeletal system and affect the bones. Soon after finding this out the physician leading the research team, Dr. Jason Wu, from Washington State University found out an antidepressant medication that stalled this process of infiltration of cancer cells from the prostate gland to the bones.[1]

This finding gave them the rationale to use this medication in people diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer with signs of active metastasis. Prostate Cancer is perhaps one of the most common forms of cancer across the world with the numbers ever increasing.[1]

This calls for the urgent need of finding out news ways of stalling the progression of the disease and improving the overall outcome of patients with this condition and use of old antidepressants for this purpose is an encouraging sign.  This article explains the details of the study on how antidepressants can stop the progression of prostate cancer.[1]

Can Use Of Antidepressants Stop Progression Of Prostate Cancer?

The first area where prostate cancer metastasizes is the bones.  The new study reveals there is an enzyme in the prostate cancer cells that help these cells to infiltrate the bone.  This enzyme is what is blocked by this old antidepressant which is a finding that has taken everyone by surprise. These findings were reported in the journal Cancer Cell. Studies suggest that prostate cancer is the second most common form of malignancy after skin cancer in males across the United States and is the primary cause of fatality among males.[2]

The American Cancer Society states that approximately 174,000 new cases of prostate cancer in 2019 in the United States and around 32,000 fatalities which is a clear 6% increase from last year.  The maximum number of fatalities due to prostate cancer is due to metastasis to the bone. During the study conducted by Dr. Wu of Washington State University, an enzyme called MAOA present in the prostate cancer cells made it easy for the cells to invade the bones.[2, 3]

This conclusion was arrived by studying the effect of the MAOA enzyme in mouse models. They recognized that this enzyme stimulates proteins which promote the functioning of osteoclasts. These are cells which have a role to play in bone tissue degradation during healing and growth. This activation of osteoclasts leads to bone destruction more than bone formation. When the activity of the MAOA cells were reduced in the mouse model then the spread of the cancer to bones also decreased.[2]

This proved the role that the MAOA enzyme played in the spread of the prostate cancer cells to the bone. Once this was established the scientists then tested a medication named clorgyline which had been used as an antidepressant long time ago and is known to block the activity of the MAOA enzyme.  This drug was used on prostate cancer cells and they were surprised to see that the medication prevented the activation of osteoclasts by the proteins found in the cancer cells.[2]

This in turn decreased the ability of the cancer cells to penetrate the bones.  The researchers opined that there are many antidepressants that are currently in use which function the same way as clorgyline and research is ongoing to identify whether these drugs have the same effect on prostate cancer cells as that was seen with clorgyline.[2]

Dr. Wu states that whatever research that has been done in this regard has shown positive results in mouse models and they are optimistic about the outcome of the research.  They are currently working on the formulation of the drug, the dosage, and the medication will be delivered before beginning application of the drug on humans.[2]

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