Did you know more than 1,600 people die from cancer every day? It’s no wonder researchers are trying to find a cure. Now, a team from Belgium may have discovered a way to “starve” cancer cells by using an antidepressant medication called sertraline, brand name Zoloft.
In a small study on mice, scientists found they could shut down cancer cells with the drug, which causes those toxic cells to stop producing sertraline, essentially blocking the hyperactive growth that takes over healthy cells. Cancerous cells seem “addicted” to sertraline. When it is suppressed, those harmful cells cannot grow. Researchers have long understood that cancerous cells seem to “rewire” cellular energy, which makes tumors grow and resist the effects of chemotherapy.
Doctors now hope to utilize this discovery to create new therapies for breast, skin, lung, and brain cancer as well as leukemia. Scientists hope they can find funding to start human clinical trials on re-purposing Pfizer’s Zoloft, which has been on the market since 1991. It is the most widely prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States, accounting for nearly 5 million scripts in March of 2020!