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Metformin, Cancer, And Metabolism

Cancer-metabolism connections are in the pages of C&EN again this week. We recently covered a $130 million deal between Celgene and Agios Pharmaceuticals, which is targeting critical metabolic enzymes to deprive cancer cells of their energy source.

Now, a multi-institution team has discovered that the popular type 2 diabetes drug metformin doesn’t work the way folks thought. The find could go a long way to explaining the drug’s potential as not only a diabetes drug, but a cancer drug too. The University of Cincinnati’s George Thomas and colleagues, who made the discovery, say that metformin could be an alternative to cancer drugs such as rapamycin, which interfere with glucose control when used long-term.

Metformin’s potential as a cancer drug has been in the literature and the news before. Here’s a sampling of the coverage.
Wall Street Journal

BMJ (British Medical Journal)

Cancer Research

And it looks like a few small, early stage clinical trials are evaluating dosing and side effects of metformin in combination with other cancer medications (such as rapamycin) in patients with advanced cancers.

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