drug-cocktail
Cancer Center

Novel Drug Cocktails Strengthen Targeted Cancer Therapies While Lessening Side Effects

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers in NYC have discovered that certain drug cocktails help targeted therapies attack cancer more efficiently while lessening common side effects, according to a study published in August 2018 in Cancer Research.

A release from Mount Sinai explains that the cocktails could also help stave off cancer’s ability to become resistant to drugs, by attacking from multiple angles the cancer’s ability to grow. The cocktails, which include chemotherapy, anti-tumor antibiotics, and chemical compounds, are given at low doses that would normally not give a therapeutic benefit on their own. Instead, they bolster a patient’s response to a separate targeted therapy drug, which blocks enzymes that help cancer cells grow.

Researchers discovered this novel way to enhance targeted cancer drugs by testing the drug cocktails on human cancer cell lines, fruit flies, and mice. They believe the cocktails can be used with a targeted therapy drug or after a failed attempt with a targeted therapy drug. The researchers found that some of these drugs can be paired together in cocktails in multiple cancer types, potentially providing a treatment option for a wide variety of cancer patients.

The release quotes Tirtha K. Das, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell, Developmental and Regenerative Biology at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, as saying, “Targeted therapies have revolutionized cancer treatment by targeting fewer components within a human cell, thereby promising better efficacy and lower side effects compared to chemotherapy. Yet clinical trials show that targeted therapies still elicit side effects, and in many cases cancer cells develop resistance mechanisms to these therapies, eventually leading to disease progression in patients. Our work addresses the central question faced by physicians who treat cancer patients: how do targeted therapies both promote resistance in cancer cells and evoke toxic side effects in patients?”

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This study, which created drug cocktails from targets found in genetic and drug screening, provides an innovative way to bolster current efforts at using targeted therapies to treat patients. Dr. Das and colleagues’ theory could prove useful with different drug cocktails that attack cancer growth from many angles, ultimately increasing the success of other targeted therapies in patients. Ross Cagan, PhD, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professor of Oncological Sciences and Cell, Developmental, and Regenerative Biology at The Tisch Cancer Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, played a significant role in this project and served as a research advisor with Dr. Das. This research was supported by National Institutes of Health.