Results from a new study suggest low doses of the diabetes drug metformin may effectively destroy pancreatic cancer stem cells, reducing the risk of tumor growth or recurrence.
Metformin has previously shown promise in reducing breast cancer risk, after researchers found women who took the drug were 25 percent less likely to develop breast cancer during their lifetimes than women who did not.
This study, conducted in mice, is the first to suggest metformin may actually target the root of certain cancers – the tumor-initiating stem cells.
“We didn’t have any clue regarding the effects of metformin on pancreatic stem cancer cells,” study researcher Dr. Christopher Heeschen, professor for experimental medicine at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid, Spain, told FoxNews.com. “It’s been implied in past studies of pancreatic cancer that patients who use metformin show better outcomes, but there have been no randomized trials yet.”
When metformin was combined with a standard chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer, the drugs were able to eradicate both cancer stem cells and the differentiated cells that made up the tumor.