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  • Posted: 01/10/2014

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NCI Cancer Center News

Antipsychotic drug exhibits cancer-fighting properties

In a prime example of finding new uses for older drugs, studies in zebrafish show that a 50-year-old antipsychotic medication called perphenazine can actively combat the cells of a difficult-to-treat form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The drug works by turning on a cancer-suppressing enzyme called PP2A and causing malignant tumor cells to self-destruct.The findings, by a team from the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women's Hospital suggest that developing medications that activate PP2A, while avoiding perphenazine's psychotropic effects, could help clinicians make much-needed headway against T-cell ALL, and perhaps other tumors as well.

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Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 68 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.