Loperamide, a drug used to treat diarrhea, can induce cell death in cultured glioblastoma, a deadly and incurable form of brain tumor that usually does not respond well to chemotherapy, said scientists from the Goethe University in Frankfurt.
According to MedicalXpress, the authors of the study found that in some types of tumor cells, loperamide triggers a stress response in the endoplasmic reticulum, which is responsible for key steps in protein synthesis.This stress destroys the reticulum, which then leads to degradation and self-destruction (autophagy) of malignant cells. In normal cells, autophagy promotes the destruction of damaged components, but in defective cells, it can cause irreversible processes leading to death.
Loperamide promotes the increased activity of the transcription factor ATF4, which in turn induces autophagy. Studies have shown that if ATF4 is blocked, then much fewer tumor cells will die from loperamide in culture.
At the same time, loperamide is safe for healthy tissues, but more research is needed to determine the way of drug delivery to the brain through the blood-brain barrier.