Drug repurposing, also known as drug repositioning, is a drug development strategy predicated on the reuse of existing licensed drugs for new medical indications.
How can we ensure accessible, sustainable and affordable cancer care in Europe? Repurposing existing medicines offers a cost-efficient way to increase cancer patients’ treatment options. Find out the untapped potential of drug repurposing and how policy makers can help, in this video!
The untapped potential of non-cancer drugs
New cancer treatments are being developed by the pharma industry, but the process of bringing these drugs to the market is slow and expensive. A largely untapped, affordable and safe treatment approach is to reuse available licensed non-cancer drugs as new anticancer treatments. Drug repurposing has the potential to make clinically important contributions to oncology, and could offer important economic and societal benefits for more sustainable healthcare systems in the long term.
Turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones
Repurposing still faces important scientific, financial and regulatory hurdles. The Anticancer Fund addresses these issues by setting up clinical trials with researchers and clinicians, and by working with other professionals, including policymakers, academics and pharmaceutical industry stakeholders.
Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO)
Over 200 non-cancer drugs have shown some evidence of anticancer effects. Of these, 50% are supported by relevant human data and 16% are supported by data from at least one positive clinical trial. In response, the Anticancer Fund, together with GlobalCures, launched the ReDO project which aims to:
Identify the most promising drugs for further clinical investigation;
Review drug-related data and bring it to the attention of clinical investigators;
Document how these drugs can be combined with existing therapies or other repurposed drugs;
Develop clinical trials to provide positive or negative evidence of efficacy;
Suggest areas where further preclinical work is necessary.
In addition to building the database of over 200 repurposing candidates, the ReDO project has published peer-reviewed journal articles on drugs with significant evidence supporting repurposing. These drugs include diclofenac, propranolol, cimetidine, nitroglycerin, clarithromycin and mebendazole – all common, generic drugs with excellent safety records and a wide range of data sources showing potent anticancer effects.
Repurposing of Drugs: Innovative Revision of Cancer Treatment (ReDIReCT)
The driving force behind the ReDIReCT doctoral thesis, which aims to bridge the gap between clinical research and practice in cancer drug repurposing, is Ciska Verbaanderd, an ACF associate and PhD student at the University of Leuven. The end goal of this thesis is to facilitate the implementation of drug repurposing in standard practice through (1) policy recommendations supporting the use of drug repurposing as a valid anticancer treatment option, and (2) a guidance tool for containing regulatory requirements and incentives, intellectual property right strategies, potential finance models and reimbursement policies in the context of drug repurposing.
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