Fights fungus, Fights cancer: Itraconazole

eeny weeny Aspergillus
Image by Cornell Fungi via Flickr

An antifungal drug, Itraconazole, may turn out to be useful in the fight against some forms of cancer. Researchers at Stanford University have found that Itraconazole slows the growth of tumors in mice. The researchers were specifically looking for existing drugs that were already FDA approved that might affect a molecular cascade called the Hedgehog pathway. It is known that the Hedgehog pathway has some affect on cancer, so the drugs selected for screening were drugs known to have some effect on this interaction.

The research team actually screened over 2400 drugs and of those tested and found effective, Itraconazole was the least toxic.

A report on Yahoo about the discovery speculates that this could lead to much cheaper treatments for cancer in the future. Sadly, it is more likely to mean much more expensive treatments for aspergillus – the main infection for which Itraconazole is used right now.

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