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  • Posted: 02/21/2012

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NCI Cancer Center News

University of Pennsylvania Study finds new combo of chemo and well-known malaria drug delivers double punch to tumors

Blocking autophagy -- the process of "self-eating" within cells -- is turning out to be a viable way to enhance the effectiveness of a wide variety of cancer treatments, report researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Specifically, blocking the action of an acidic inner cell part, which acts like a stomach and chews up proteins for recycling, is the main attack strategy. The Penn researchers and others have demonstrated that adding hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) — an FDA-approved drug used commonly for malaria and rheumatoid arthritis -- to many cancer therapies, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, and immunotherapy, can enhance the antitumor activity of these drugs in laboratory models of treatment-resistant cancers, and ongoing clinical trials.

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NCI comprehensive cancer centers logoAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 66 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.