An antidepressant could hold the key to increasing the variety of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) a drug can treat.
A team from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has claimed that an antidepressant called tranylcypromine (TCP) could make treatment of AML with a retinoid called all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) more successful.
At the moment, ATRA is used to treat one rare sub-type of AML, but the researchers are confident that TCP could change what has until now been a "mystery".
"Our study revealed that there was a molecular block that could be reversed with a second drug that is already commonly used as an antidepressant," said team leader Dr Arthur Zelent, from the ICR.
"We think this is a very promising strategy, and if these findings can be replicated in patients the potential benefits are enormous."
Around 2,000 people are diagnosed with AML each year and, while it can affect people of any age, it is more common in the over 65s.
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