A new study in Nature Medicine shows that the anti-depressant tranylcypromine — an MAO inhibitor sold commercially as Parnate — could be used as part of a combination therapy to treat acute myeloid leukemia, reports the PsychCentral blog. All-trans-retinoic acid is used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia, but hasn't been effective for the more common types of AML, an incongruity that puzzled the researchers. Now, the team says, the new study shows that the molecular pathway that all-trans-retinoic acid targets is dormant in AML cells, which means the drugs have no target to attack and therefore don't work, PsychCentral says. But the tranylcypromine switches this pathway back on, making the cancer cells susceptible to the cancer treatment.
The team has started a Phase II clinical trial of this drug combination in AML patients, the blog adds.