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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Naltrexone Treatment for Cancer

The drug naltrexone is commonly prescribed to both opioid addicts and alcoholics to reduce cravings. A number of people in recovery for addiction have found the drug to be helpful, especially in early sobriety. The drug comes in pill form, but is also can be administered by injection as well—sold under the brand name Vivitrol.

With opioid addicts, naltrexone blocks the effects typically experienced by opioid use—such as pain relief and euphoria. When used for alcoholics, naltrexone can reduce one’s urge to drink. A number of addiction treatment centers around the country utilize naltrexone, with the hopes of reducing a client's risk of relapse.

Many of the drugs used today for treating addiction, were originally used to treat other health conditions. Interestingly, naltrexone may have uses outside of the field of addiction. New research suggests that naltrexone in low doses may be effective in the treatment of cancer, ScienceDaily reports. The findings were published in the International Journal of Oncology.

Researchers at St George's, University of London, found that naltrexone can cause cancer cells to stop growing, according to the article. They also found that the drug can change the “internal machinery” of cancer cells, which can make the cells self-destruct. Naltrexone can actually reboot genes that promote cancer cell killing, and alter genes which engage with the immune system make it more resistant to cancer.

The study’s lead researchers Dr. Wai Liu and Professor Angus Dalgleish believe that naltrexone could lead to some exciting new cancer treatments in the future, the article reports. Dr. Liu has been studying cancer treatments for 20 years, and hopes that these findings will lead to human clinical trials.

“We have shown that the genetic fingerprint of naltrexone differs according to the different doses used, which identifies new ways of using it as an anti-cancer treatment,” said Dr Liu. "Rather than stopping the cancer cells from growing, patients want to be rid of them. We saw that by giving the drug for two days, then withdrawing it, cancer cells would stop cycling and undergo cell death."

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