Treatment with cidofovir, a well-recognized antiviral drug, has shown promise in killing several types of cancer cells, including mesothelioma, data in a preclinical study show.
The study, “Reduced Cell Viability And Apoptosis Induction In Human Thyroid Carcinoma And Mesothelioma Cells Exposed To Cidofovir,” was published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro.
Cidofovir (CDV) is an antiviral drug that is primarily used to treat viruses like herpesvirus, papillomavirus, polyomavirus, and adenoviruses. But it also has shown anticancer properties, both in lab-grown cells and in cancer animal models.
Researchers investigated the potential therapeutic effect of this drug in cell cultures of human breast, colon, liver, lung, prostate, thyroid carcinomas, and mesothelioma. To confirm the effect of CDV in these cells, they also tested the drug in SV40 virus-infected mesothelioma and thyroid carcinoma cell cultures.
Cancer cell cultures were treated with increasing concentrations (10-1000 µM) of CDV for up to 120 hours. Results showed the treatment decreased cell survival, and that this effect increased as dose and exposure time increased. Importantly, CDV induced cancer cell death regardless of viral presence, meaning that its anti-cancer properties are not necessarily mediated by its ability to attack the virus.
“[D]ecreased cell viability was mainly evidenced following exposure of tumor cells to CDV for 72 to 120 hours, possibly indicating that cells need to accumulate sufficient drug induced stress before reduced cell viability take place,” Simona Catalani, from the Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino, in Italy, and colleagues wrote.
Further biochemical analyses showed that CDV acts by changing the levels of several proteins involved in cell death, thereby promoting apoptosis, a common cell death mechanism.
Taken together, these results suggest that CDV may become a valuable option for the treatment of several cancer types, including mesothelioma.
“In conclusion, we showed for the first time the in vitro effects of CDV on human mesothelioma and follicular thyroid carcinoma cells, evidencing reduced cancer cell viability and apoptosis induction in a virus-independent manner, as recently reported for other CDV-exposed malignant cells,” the researchers wrote. “These findings further suggest that CDV may have therapeutic potential as [anticancer] agent; in particular, considering its mode of action, CDV combination with radiation therapy and chemotherapeutics may be expected to result in [enhanced] antitumor activity.”