Repurposed Anti-Fungal Drug Offers Potential New Prostate Cancer Treatment

Itraconazole shows some promise in treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.

Itraconazole shows some promise in treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.

A low cost, common anti-fungal drug showed signs of efficacy in the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer during a recent study.

Itraconazole was evaluated as a cancer treatment as part of the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project. The The ReDO project promotes the use of common medicines which may offer an untapped source of novel cancer therapies.

Itraconazole has been approved to treat a broad range of fungal infections, including infections of the skin and nails.

"Itraconazole shows potential in a number of areas with high unmet patient needs, particularly in non-small cell lung cancer and possibly in some rarer malignancies," ReDO project member Pan Pantziarka, PhD, said in a press release. "That there are a number of clinical trials on-going in a range of different cancers is an encouraging start."

Itraconazole, a generic agent, may offer a cost effective alternative treatment to higher cancer treatments such as arbiraterone, according to the study. The researchers noted that the relatively low cost of itraconazole would make it an attractive option for the treatment of cancer in low and middle income countries and in overburdened health systems, such as the NHS.

There are still hurdles to overcome before the anti-fungal medication can hit the anti-cancer market.

"Our intention in collecting data on repurposed drugs is to do more than merely bringing it to the attention of the medical community," study author Lydie Meheus, PhD, said in a press release. "It is rather obvious that the pharma industry is not interested in taking the driver's seat when we are dealing with commercially neglected drugs. Consequently we are currently in a catch-22 situation, since only the 'owners' of a market authorization can apply for a new indication.”