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        Decades-old                                                              and human prostate cancer cell
                                                                                 lines showed that MAO inhibitors
                                                                                 decreased the growth and spread
        antidepressant may                                                       of prostate cancer, the researchers
                                                                                 found.
        fend off prostate                                                        Because the MAO inhibitor

                                                                                 phenelzine is already FDA-
        cancer’s return                                                          approved, the researchers
                                                                                 were able to rapidly design and
                                                                                 implement a pilot study to test the
                                                                                 drug’s ability to fight cancer.
              n antidepressant in use for    twice-a-day treatment, with the
              decades, repurposed to         greatest decline in PSA being a     For this study, researchers enrolled
        Afight prostate cancer, shows        74% drop. PSA stands for prostate   20 participants who had been
        promise in helping patients whose    specific antigen; it’s a biomarker   treated for prostate cancer and
        disease has returned following       for prostate cancer circulating in   who had elevated PSA levels.
        surgery or radiation, a pilot study at   the blood.                      Patients received the MAO
        USC shows.                                                               inhibitor phenelzine twice a day
                                             Prostate cancer is the second most   for 12 weeks. Fifty-five percent
        The drug -- an MAO inhibitor called   common cancer -- behind skin       of the men experienced PSA
        phenelzine -- represents a potential   cancer -- diagnosed in men in the   declines; five of them saw PSA
        new treatment direction with fewer   United States, with about 174,000   level declines of 30% or more; two
        side effects for men with recurrent   cases diagnosed each year. For     participants saw decreases of 50%
        prostate cancer, researchers said.   most patients, prostate cancer is   or more.
                                             treated with surgery or radiation or
        “To our knowledge, this study is the   a combination of the two.         Three patients had to drop out due
        first clinical trial of an MAO inhibitor                                 to dizziness or hypertension.
        in cancer patients,” said senior     After surgery, a patient’s PSA
        author Jean Shih, a University       should be close to zero. However,   The main limitations of the study
        Professor in USC’s School of         in about one-third of patients, the   include the lack of a placebo
        Pharmacy who has studied the         PSA level rises again, indicating   comparison group and the small
        enzyme MAO, or monoamine             the cancer has returned. Hormone    sample size, researchers said.
        oxidase, for four decades.           therapy is a standard treatment     Additional studies are planned,
                                             for recurrent prostate cancer, but   and Shih has patented a second-
        The research appears in the          it comes with serious side effects   generation MAO inhibitor tagged
        journal Prostate Cancer and          that impact quality of life.        with a substance that could help
        Prostatic Diseases.                                                      doctors see where the cancer has
                                             That’s where MAO inhibitors may     spread.
        “If our findings are confirmed,      be able to help.
        this could be part of a new                                              Story Source:
        avenue for patients that could       MAO inhibitors treat depression     Materials provided by University
        avoid undesirable side effects       by readjusting levels of            of Southern California. Original
        of standard therapies,” said first   neurotransmitters such as           written by Leigh Hopper. Note:
        author Mitchell Gross, a medical     serotonin and dopamine in the       Content may be edited for style
        oncologist and research director     brain. The downside is that the     and length.
        at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute   medication requires dietary
        for Transformative Medicine of       changes and careful avoidance of    Journal Reference:
        USC. Gross and Shih have been        drug interactions to prevent serious   1. Mitchell E. Gross, David B.
        collaborating for several years to   side effects.                       Agus, Tanya B. Dorff, Jacek
        bring her research out of the lab                                        K. Pinski, David I. Quinn, Olga
        and into the clinic.                 Antidepressant disrupts cancer      Castellanos, Patrick Gilmore,
                                             growth pathway                      Jean C. Shih. Phase 2 trial of
        Potential option for recurrent                                           monoamine oxidase inhibitor
        prostate cancer                      In prostate cancer, MAO inhibitors   phenelzine in biochemical
                                             disrupt androgen receptor           recurrent prostate cancer. Prostate
        In this study, 11 of 20 participants   signaling -- the main growth      Cancer and Prostatic Diseases,
        had a measurable decline in their    pathway for prostate cancer.        2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41391-020-
        PSA levels after 12 weeks of         Previous studies with animals       0211-9




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