New Uses Found for Old Drugs08/17/11
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Many drugs already
approved to combat certain illnesses may also be helpful in
treating a slew of other seemingly unrelated health problems, a new
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine used
computers to pair drugs with all illnesses for which they might be
beneficial. They argued their findings make the case for drug
repositioning -- or the use of existing drugs to boost progress on
the development of new treatments -- for other serious
One high-profile example of how a drug can be used to treat
conditions for which it was not originally intended involves
Viagra. This medication was first developed to treat heart
problems. It turned out that Viagra is also effective in treating
erectile dysfunction as well as a lung disorder called pulmonary
The researchers from Stanford, however, sought to predict these
unforeseen drug indications, rather than find them
In conducting the study, they limited their database search to
100 diseases that were grouped by how they changed gene activity --
not by the organ affected. These diseases were then paired up with
drugs that had opposite effects on the gene activity exerted by the
The search resulted in two strange pairings: an ulcer drug could
be used to treat a lung condition that accounts for roughly 30
percent to 40 percent of all lung cancers and an anti-seizure drug
that could treat Crohn's disease.
The study, published online Aug. 17 in two separate studies in
Science Translational Medicine, revealed the ulcer medication, cimetidine, inhibited the growth of tumors formed by lung cancer cells. Meanwhile, the researchers found that topiramate, a drug used to stop seizures, helped ease symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, such as diarrhea.
The study authors said they hope their findings will help line
up funding sources, allowing them to use this new approach to match
certain compounds with the right clinical trials.
The National Institutes of Health provides more information on
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