Thioridazine, a drug with a long list of heavy side effects, used to treat people with schizophrenia, can also kill some cancer cells, according to research published Thursday in the medical journal Cell.
Scientists said they discovered that thioridazine can be used to selectively target and stop cancerous stem cells in leukemia, breast, blood, brain, prostate, ovarian, lung and gastrointestinal cancers, all without the worst side effects of today’s cancer therapies.
Mick Bhatia, the study’s principal researcher and scientific director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in Canada, said in a press release: “The unusual aspect of our finding is the way this human-ready drug actually kills cancer stem cells, by changing them into cells that are non-cancerous,”
However, Thioridazine is known to cause a wide variety of side effects in humans, including vomiting, constipation, swelling, slowed movements and sudden death from an irregular heartbeat, so drug won’t get prescribed to cancer patients just yet.
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However, scientists said that there are at least 12 other existing drugs that have “good potential for the same response.”