WASHINGTON: Antidepressant sertraline may help prevent the growth of cancer cells, new research suggests.
The substance works on metabolic addiction, which allows for the development of various forms of cancer.
This is called a Study On cell cultures and lab animals conducted by various research laboratories at KU Leuven. Her research has been published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Cancer cells use different biological mechanisms to promote their growth. Some types of breast cancer, leukemia, skin cancer, brain tumors and lung cancer, among others, malignant cells produce high amounts of serine and glycine, two amino acids. This product stimulates the growth of cancer cells and is addicted to serine and glycine.
“This procedure is an interesting target because cancer cells depend on it,” said Professor Kim de Kiersemaker, head of the Laboratory for Cancer in Disease Mechanisms (LDMC).
“Healthy cells use this mechanism to some extent and also take serine and glycine from the diet. This is not enough for cancer cells, however, it means they can start producing more. If we can stop this production, we will be able to fight cancer without affecting healthy cells,” Kiersmaker added.
In search of an object that affects the synthesis of serine and glycine, the researchers used an existing .subjects database. In the first phase, Professor Bruno Camue’s research group at the Center for Microbial and Plant Genetics (CMPG) tested 1,600 materials on yeast cells.
“There are also yeasts or molds that rely on the same mechanism,” says Dr. Coleman, research associate. Explains Karin Thewissen. “Some yeasts produce these amino acids to protect them from antifungals. In addition, you can easily grow yeast cells, allowing you to test several different substances.”
Screening has shown that antidepressant sertraline is the most effective substance. “Other studies have already suggested that sertraline has a specific anti-cancer activity, but there is no explanation for it yet,” quoted researchers Shawnee Giererts (LDMC and CMPG) and Kim Campen (LDMC).
“This Study, We were able to demonstrate that sertraline inhibits serine and glycine production and reduces the growth of cancer cells. We have found this substance to be highly effective in combination with other therapeutic agents. In studies with mice, we have seen that sertraline strongly inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells with another treatment.
Considerable capacity
“Now that we have been able to identify this mechanism for breast cancer, we can start testing other types of cancer that are addicted to serine and glycine synthesis,” says Professor De Kierzmaker. “It is present in T-cell leukemia, but also in some types of brain, lung and skin cancers. We can identify more tumors that are sensitive to sertraline. The prospects of helping patients in the future are better.”
“These are, of course, the results of clinical research, not clinical studies, but we can be optimistic about the potential. The safety of using sertraline in humans is already well described, which is a great benefit.


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