An antibiotic may be able to improve treatment for chronic myeloid leukaemia, aiding eradication of the disease, British researchers reported on Wednesday.
The researchers at Glasgow University, Scotland, have been studying the combination of tigecycline and imatinib.
They reported on their laboratory work in Nature Medicine on Wednesday.
This showed that the drug combination destroys CML cells.
In pre-clinical animal models, the treatment 'significantly' delays disease relapse, they report.
The researchers named in the study include Professor Tessa Holyoake, who was director of the university’s leukaemia research centre but died recently.
The researchers say that a key part of the work has been established that CML stem cells are 'metabolically distinct' from normal stem cells.
Researcher Dr Vignir Helgason said: 'We were very excited to find that when we treated CML cells with both the antibiotic tigecycline and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug imatinib, CML stem cells were selectively killed.
'We believe that our findings provide a strong basis for testing this novel therapeutic strategy in clinical trials in order to eliminate CML stem cells and provide cure for CML patients.'
Professor Karen Vousden, chief scientist at Cancer Research UK, said: 'It’s exciting to see that using an antibiotic alongside an existing treatment could be a way to keep this type of leukaemia at bay, and potentially even cure it.
'If this approach is shown to be safe and effective in humans too, it could offer a new option for patients who at the moment face long-term treatment with the possibility of relapse.'
Source: Targeting mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation eradicates therapy-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells. Nature Medicine 18 September 2017
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