A DRUG used to treat alcohol addiction can help fight cancer, Irish scientists have discovered.
Researchers in three Dublin hospitals found that the drug Disulfiram – used to treat those battling alcohol addiction - can improve chemotherapy treatment in lung cancer patients.
The laboratory study was a collaboration between Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin and St. James’s Hospital and the Cancer Stem Cell Group at Dublin’s Coombe Hospital.
The news gives fresh hope to those suffering from the disease.
Ruth Deasy of the EU Commission, which part-funded the research, described the Irish research as a major breakthrough.
“The researchers in Trinity, James and the Coombe, with some support from the EU funds, have discovered that a well-known drug used to treat alcohol addiction can be boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy for lung cancer sufferers,” she said.
“This is a great breakthrough and it really improves the effectiveness of the chemotherapy that people are receiving.”
Scientists discovered that the drug Disulfiram (Antabuse) in combination with chemotherapy was significantly more effective.
It helped to kill certain lung cancer cells blamed for drug resistance and subsequent tumour recurrence compared to chemotherapy alone.
When used to treat alcohol addiction, Disulfiram prevents the body from metabolising such beverages and causes the individual in question to feel sick.
Resistance to chemotherapy has become a big challenge in the fight against lung cancer, which kills more people worldwide each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.