Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Unexpected Use of Former Cancer Drug

Published: Friday, September 06, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, September 06, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have unexpectedly discovered that an old cancer drug can be used to prevent rejection of transplanted tissue.

The researchers now have high hopes that their discovery could lead to new treatments for both transplant patients and patients with autoimmune diseases.

The researchers behind the study, which has been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, work at the Rausing Laboratory, Lund University, where they have conducted research on brain tumours over many years.

“Our group were studying the effects of the old tumour drug Zebularine, developed in the USA in the 1960s, and by chance we discovered that it had completely unexpected effects on the immune system”, says Leif Salford, Senior Professor of Neurosurgery.

“It turned out that Zebularine has the ability to subdue the reaction of the body’s immune system. This could be important in situations where tissue or organs are transplanted. We also think it could be used to curb the body’s attacks on its own tissue in autoimmune diseases, for instance type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis”, says Dr Nittby.

In studies on animals, the researchers used rats that were made diabetic. The researchers transplanted the islets of Langerhans – cell groups in the pancreas producing insulin – from healthy rats from another kind of rat into those with diabetes. The diabetic rats were divided into two groups; one group were treated with Zebularine and the other, the control group, did not receive any treatment. The diabetic rats that were treated with Zebularine survived for a significantly longer period than the untreated rats.

“It is very interesting that we only treated them with Zebularine for two weeks, but the effects of the treatment could be observed throughout the 90-day follow-up period.

“The findings are very exciting and are a sign that the immune system was not just generally suppressed, but that the treatment was more targeted. Neither did we see any signs of side-effects”, said Dr Nittby.

The researchers are now working intensively to further refine the treatment. The next step is to teach certain cells in the immune system – the dendritic cells – to accept certain specific proteins using the Zebularine treatment.

This would mean that the treatment could be targeted even more.

“If we succeed with that, we believe it could be of clinical significance both to prevent rejection of transplanted organs and to stop the body attacking its own tissue in autoimmune diseases. If this becomes a reality, I hope large groups of patients could be spared the lifelong treatment that is currently necessary to keep the immune system in check”, says Professor Salford.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,700+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
New Protein Found in Immune Cells
Immunobiologists from the University of Freiburg discover Kidins220/ARMS in B cells and demonstrate its functions.
Detecting HIV Diagnostic Antibodies with DNA Nanomachines
New research may revolutionize the slow, cumbersome and expensive process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.
Snapshot Turns T Cell Immunology on its Head
New research may have implications for 1 diabetes sufferers.
Tolerant Immune System Increases Cancer Risk
Researchers have found that individuals with high immunoCRIT ratios may have an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
New Approach to Treating Heparin-induced Blood Disorder
A potential treatment for a serious clotting condition that can strike patients who receive heparin to treat or prevent blood clots may lie within reach by elucidating the structure of the protein complex at its root.
3 Ways Viruses Have Changed Science for the Better
Viruses are really good at what they do, and we’ve been able to harness their skills to learn about – and potentially improve – human health in several ways.
Mixed Up Cell Transportation Key Piece of ALS and Dementia Puzzle
Researchers from the University of Toronto are one step closer to solving this incredibly complex puzzle, offering hope for treatment.
Antibody Treatment Efficacious in Psoriasis
An experimental, biologic treatment, brodalumab, achieved 100 percent reduction in psoriasis symptoms in twice as many patients as a second, commonly used treatment, according to the results of a multicenter clinical trial led by Mount Sinai researchers.
Four Gut Bacteria Decrease Asthma Risk in Infants
New research by scientists at UBC and BC Children’s Hospital finds that infants can be protected from getting asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age.
Escape Prevention
Studying flu virus structure brings us a step closer to a permanent vaccine.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,700+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos