Malaria pill could prevent liver cancer

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An over-the-counter pill for treating malaria has been found to both prevent liver cancer and shrink existing tumors, according to recent research.

Chloroquine, a derivative of quinine, has long been used for the treatment of malaria, as well as for the treatment of lupus and various autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Chloroquine is inexpensive and widely available. Researchers at the University College London have produced evidence that the drug can combat liver cancer as well. The investigators determined that chloroquine turns off two proteins (Toll-like proteins 7 and 9), which are believed to be activated by liver cell death. Protein activation spurs chronic inflammation, which stops cells from regenerating properly and leads to cancer. Chloroquine was also found to prevent cancer in approximately 80 percent of cases and reduce the size of established tumors.

Further research is required before clinical trials with chloroquine can begin, but the research has provided a potentially productive avenue worth exploring. About 33,190 new cases of liver cancer are expected to be be diagnosed in the United States in 2014, and approximately 23,000 people (about two-thirds men) are expected to die of these cancers.

This research was published in the journal Liver International.

Malaria pill could prevent liver cancer
Malaria pill could prevent liver cancer
Now scientists at University College London have found that it can also prevent liver cancer in a discovery which could prevent thousands of deaths a year and give hope to hundreds of thousands of people at risk of developing the disease. “I am very excited that we may have a potential way of stopping liver cancer,” said Rajiv Jalan, Professor of Hepatology, at UCL.
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