London: Scientists have discovered that an experimental drug used to treat Alzheimer`s can also block lung cancer growth.
Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) deciphered one of the molecular pathways behind lung cancer and used this information to identify an experimental drug, which blocks lung cancer growth in mice.
The team has identified the molecular pathways by which a gene Notch, involved in development of some cancers regulates cell proliferation in lung cancer.
"We have found that this protein cooperates with the Ras oncogene, a key element in the formation of these tumours," Manuel Serrano, lead researcher said in a statement.
They also discovered the therapeutic effect of a specific experimental drug which blocks Notch efficiently, named GSIs (Gamma-Secretase Inhibitors).
GSIs were developed over 15 years ago to treat Alzheimer`s disease.
The study used genetically modified mice previously developed by Mariano Barbacid, head of the Experimental Oncoloy Group at the CNIO, that faithfully recapitulate human lung cancer.
"After 15 days of treatment, lung tumours failed to grow without treatment-related side effects," Antonio Maraver, the first author of the study, said.
The study was published in the journal Cancer Cell.