The conventional antipsychotic medication Stelazine (trifluoperazine) has been used for many years in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions. With the release of the newer, “atypical” antipsychotic medications, the use of Stelazine has been on the decline. The newer drugs offer fewer adverse side effects, especially for elderly or people with physical or mental health issues.
However, innovative cancer research has sparked renewed interest in Stelazine. Early indications are that this antipsychotic medication might be an effective tool in the battle against certain forms of cancer. More specifically, a treatment approach that combines Stelazine with the chemotherapy drug bleomycin has shown great success in fighting lung cancers. The exact mechanism behind Stelazine’s anticancer properties is a mystery, and much work remains to be done.
Battling cancer at the molecular level means tearing apart the DNA of malignant cells. Radiation treatments and chemotherapy attack cancer DNA, ultimately preventing replication of the diseases cells. Unfortunately, even cancerous cells have mechanisms of self-repair that many times render our best efforts futile. The resilience of cancer in the face of modern medical science is astounding. Every new breakthrough, though, brings us one step closer to a real cure for cancer.
In several trials, the antipsychotic medication Stelazine has demonstrated the ability to interrupt the self-repair mechanisms of cancer cells. When combined with the right chemotherapy drug, tumors have been shrunken at a significantly faster rate. If the physical or chemical properties of Stelazine responsible for its anticancer capabilities can be isolated, then novel drugs can be produced. Right now, Stelazine has adverse effects and toxicity levels that can potentially cause further discomfort for cancer patients over and above their chemotherapy regimen.
The next generation of chemotherapy drugs and cancer treatments may grow from the research currently underway to unlock the unique properties of Stelazine. Doctors have administered bleomycin for lung cancer for many years, but the tendency is for the tumors to resist and repair the damage from this chemical onslaught. Bleomycin may temporarily slow cancer growth, but often this effect is only temporary.
No one understands why, but Stelazine appears to boost the effectiveness of bleomycin. The damaged DNA is unable to repair itself properly and, therefore, the cell dies. Even more promising is the fact that Stelazine won’t harm healthy cells. Ideally, researchers will soon unravel the mystery of Stelazine and lung cancer patients will need less chemotherapy, less radiation, and enjoy much better odds of a full recovery.
- Polischouk, A.G., Holgersson, A., Zong, D., Stenerlow, B., Karlsson, H.L., Moller, L., Viktorsson, K., et al. (2007). The antipsychotic drug trifluoperazine inhibits DNA repair and sensitizes non-small cell lung carcinoma cells to DNA double-strand break-induced cell death. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 6, 2303-2309.
- Trifluoperazine – PubMed Health. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved March 10, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000585/
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