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From Schizophrenia to Cancer


A new study in Cell published by researchers at McMaster University suggests that a drug commonly used to treat ailments like schizophrenia might also be beneficial for cancer patients, reports PsychCentral's Rick Nauert. The drug, a dopamine receptor antagonist, seems to influence cancer stem cells to differentiate into more benign cell types, Nauert says. The team analyzed hundreds of compounds, screening them on human cancer stem cells and normal human stem cells. "By testing hundreds of compounds, they identified nearly 20 potential cancer stem cell specific drugs," Nauert says. "The one that appeared most promising is an antipsychotic drug, thioridazine, which combats the symptoms of schizophrenia by targeting dopamine receptors in the brain. ... Researchers say thioridazine doesn't appear to kill cancer stem cells, but rather encourages them to differentiate, thus exhausting the pool of self-renewing cells."

Senior author Mickie Bhatia says this could be because some cancer cells express a dopamine receptor on their surfaces. It also suggests, he adds, that dopamine receptors could serve as biomarkers of rare tumor-initiating cells. "In light of the findings, Bhatia's team is already planning for a clinical trial of the FDA-approved thioridazine in combination with standard anti-cancer drugs for adult acute myeloid leukemia," Nauert adds.

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.