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Semin Oncol. 2016 Feb;43(1):123-133. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2015.09.009. Epub 2015 Sep 8.

Repurposing old drugs to chemoprevention: the case of metformin.

Author information

1
Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA.
2
Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.
3
Office of the Scientific Director, E.O. Ospedali Galliera, Genoa, Italy.
4
Division of Medical Oncology, E.O. Ospedali Galliera, Genoa, Italy; Division of Cancer Prevention and Genetics, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.
5
Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA. Electronic address: szaboe@mail.nih.gov.

Abstract

Multiple epidemiologic studies have documented an association between the anti-diabetic agent metformin and reduced cancer incidence and mortality. However, this effect has not been consistently demonstrated in animal models or more recent epidemiological studies. The purpose of this paper is to examine metformin's chemopreventive potential by reviewing relevant mechanisms of action, preclinical evidence of efficacy, updated epidemiologic evidence after correction for potential biases and confounders, and recently completed and ongoing clinical trials. Although repurposing drugs with well described mechanisms of action and safety profiles is an appealing strategy for cancer prevention, there is no substitute for well executed late phase clinical trials to define efficacy and populations that are most likely to benefit from an intervention.

KEYWORDS:

Chemoprevention; Metformin; Repurposing

PMID:
26970131
PMCID:
PMC4789107
DOI:
10.1053/j.seminoncol.2015.09.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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