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Science highlights

Latest news about drug repurposing in oncology #2

Latest news about drug repurposing in oncology #2

Discover our second newsletter with scientific updates: we have listed recent findings about the repurposing of generic drugs in oncology. Our intention is to help bring these findings to the attention of the broader cancer research community

Drug repurposing is a strategy for identifying new uses for approved drugs, outside the scope of the original indication. It is one of the focus areas of the Anticancer Fund.

Being listed is no endorsement of the results and conclusions of the article. All articles need to be critically assessed and viewed in their broader research context.

Please get in touch if you’re interested in discussing research based on the findings presented below (

Clinical data

Phase I clinical trial of combination propranolol and pembrolizumab in locally advanced and metastatic melanoma: Safety, Tolerability, and Preliminary Evidence of Antitumor Activity
Published in Clin Cancer Res
Phase 1 trial; safety; propranolol; pembrolizumab; immuno-oncology.

A Phase II Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Chloroquine in Combination With Taxanes in the Treatment of Patients With Advanced or Metastatic Anthracycline-refractory Breast Cancer
Published in Clin Breast Cancer
Phase 2 trial; single-arm; chloroquine; metastatic breast cancer; cancer stem cells.

Reduction of Liver Metastasis Stiffness Improves Response to Bevacizumab in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Published in Cancer Cell
Observational study; metastatic colorectal cancer; renin-angiotensin system; angiotensin-receptor blockers; tumour stiffness; metastasis-associated fibroblasts.

Perioperative Dexamethasone Is Associated With Higher Short-Term Mortality in Reconstructive Head and Neck Cancer Surgery
Published in J Oral Maxillofac Surg
Randomised controlled trial; head and neck cancer; dexamethasone; detrimental effect; peri-operative therapy.

CXCR4 inhibition in human pancreatic and colorectal cancers induces an integrated immune response
Published in PNAS
Phase 1 trial; safety; plerixafor; CXCR4; immune-oncology.

Preclinical data  

Drug repositioning of antiretroviral ritonavir for combinatorial therapy in glioblastoma
Published in Eur J Cancer
Glioblastoma; Ritonavir; ER-stress; autophagy; temozolomide; radiotherapy.

Repurposing loperamide to overcome gefitinib resistance by triggering apoptosis independent of autophagy induction in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells
Published in Cancer Treat Res Commun
NSCLC; loperamide; KRAS mutation; gefitinib.

Inhibition of G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 promotes unbiased downregulation of IGF-1 receptor and restrains malignant cell growth
Published in Cancer Res
Ewing’s sarcoma; IGF1 receptor; paroxetine; drug discovery; biased signalling.

Mebendazole for Differentiation Therapy of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Identified by a Lineage Maturation Index
Published in Leukemia
Acute myeloid leukaemia; mebendazole; differentiation; lineage maturation index.

Potential and mechanism of mebendazole for treatment and maintenance of ovarian cancer
Published in Gynecol Oncol
Ovarian cancer; mebendazole; p53; maintenance.

Repurposing of antipsychotic trifluoperazine for treating brain metastasis, lung metastasis and bone metastasis of melanoma by disrupting autophagy flux
Published in Pharmacol Res
Brain metastasis; trifluoperazine; blood brain barrier; melanoma; lysosome.

Other drug repurposing news (soft repurposing, non-oncology late-phase trials, regulations …)

Positive opinion for fenfluramine in the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet Syndrome
New market authorization; fenfluramine; commercial repurposing; rare disease; epilepsy.

Systematic approach to selecting licensed drugs for repurposing in the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis; drug repurposing prioritisation.

Importance of dose redefining in the process of drug repurposing
Pharmacology; drug repurposing.

Do you have questions? Please contact us:

You'll find more information on drug repurposing here.

Intrested in our clinical trials? Explore them here.

Gauthier Bouche & Pan Pantziarka

Gauthier Bouche (MD) is Director of Clinical Research at the Anticancer Fund. His efforts are dedicated to collaboration with clinicians, researchers and patients groups to initiate clinical trials. He advocates for more pragmatic trials addressing patients' needs and less curiosity-driven trials.

Pan Pantziarka is Programme Director Drug Repurposing of the Anticancer Fund. He is the co-ordinator of the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology project that the ACF has founded in partnership with the US not-for-profit organisation GlobalCures. By training Pan is a data scientist and author but he has switched fields to oncology. He has previously published in the area of cancer pre-disposition syndromes and is also chairman of the George Pantziarka TP53 Trust.