Ever since 2000 researchers have tried to find if antidepressants have some effects on brain tumors and now a Swiss team seems to have truly discovered it. There were some assumptions that the drug lowers the risk of developing glioblastomas, an aggressive type o brain cancer, but conclusive effects have not been found.
Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology haven’t given up on finding an easy and non-toxic treatment for these very aggressive types of brain cancer and started trying out various drug combinations on mice. They knew that anticoagulants or blood thinners have an interesting effect on cancer cells, they make cells eat themselves, a process called autophagy. Apparently tricyclic antidepressants have a similar effect on cancer cells, but by disrupting the normal cycle of the cancer cell in a different kind of way.
Basically, scientists knew that both drugs had the same effect on particular brain cancer cells, but they affected the cells differently. By using this knowledge, researchers decided to combine the two drugs and see if a significant effect exists. The drugs don’t interfere with each other, they seem to have a synergic effect. Antidepressants and anticoagulants work together and cause a disruption in the cancer cells life cycle that stimulates them to destroy themselves.
As a conclusion, the mice were not cured, they still died with glioblastomas, but their lifespan was doubled. Also, treating them with only antidepressants or blood thinners had no significant effect, improvement appeared in mice who were treated with the combination of the two drugs. Scientists don’t consider this a breakthrough in curing glioblastomas, but it gives hope for patients diagnosed in early stages, because it might just delay the development of the brain cancer enough to start an early and effective treatment.