There is a new hope for cancer patients. The antidepressant known as “Prozac” could prevent the growth of colon tumors and pancreatic cancer. This is at least confirmed by the first promising tests with mice.
Prozac against cancer: Antidepressant could inhibit cancer growth
In a recent study, a team of researchers at the University of Zurich investigated how serotonin affects cancer cells. Serotonin is also known as the “happiness hormone” and is primarily responsible for our mood. People with low serotonin levels can suffer from depression. Many common antidepressants therefore start here. They are often serotonin reuptake inhibitors and increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain.
However, most serotonin is produced in the intestinal mucosa and stored in platelets. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels in the brain and thus simultaneously decrease serotonin in platelets. Cancer cells use the messenger substance serotonin to camouflage themselves from defense cells, as the researchers discovered.
How can the antidepressant “fluoxetine”, better known as “Prozac”, help against cancer? Since antidepressants lower serotonin in the blood platelets, tumors can no longer use the messenger substance. In experiments with mice, the researchers found that tumor growth in mice slowed down significantly and that more T cells migrated to the cancerous tumors to fight the cancer.
Serotonin blockers help detect tumor cells
A researcher in the study explains, “Antidepressants and other serotonin blockers cause immune cells to recognize tumor cells again and eliminate them efficiently.” In this way, the growth of colon and pancreatic cancer was slowed in mice.
“Our results give hope for cancer patients. This is because the drugs used are already approved for clinical use,” says researcher Pierre-Alain Clavien. Hopefully, the first clinical trials will start soon.