A study suggests that antimalarial drugs like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could make cancer treatments more effective. Researchers from the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project said that there is evidence to include these drugs in further clinical investigations. The authors are particularly excited about the potential for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as the evidence suggests they make tumour cells more sensitive to cancer treatment.

“What makes chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine so interesting is these multiple mechanisms of action”, noted first author Ciska Verbaanderd.”These antimalarial drugs act on both the level of cancer cells and the tumour microenvironment.” Studying this has led to interesting scientific insights in tumour biology, such as the importance of autophagy, the tumour vasculature and the immune system.”Verbaanderd continued that the results lead them to believe that these antimalarial drugs could offer significant clinical benefit for certain cancer patients, especially in combination with standard anticancer treatments.This should be confirmed by additional clinical results. One of the authors Vikas P. Sukhatme added “We look forward with much anticipation to the results of the 30 or so ongoing clinical studies that use chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for cancer treatment.” The researchers’ hope is that with the publication of this study, increased awareness of the potential applications will bring these medications out of the medicine cabinet – and into cancer care.

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