Anti-Diabetic Drug Metformin to fight Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a major cause of death from cancer. In most cases, this disease is still in an incurable stage. It is the third most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. According to Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan) 2020, about 1.9 million new CRC cases and nearly 900,000 CRC deaths have been recorded worldwide. CRC therapies rely only on surgical removal of cancer, combined with subsequent chemotherapy, which is usually associated with uncomfortable side effects for patients.It is, therefore, desirable to find new strategies for therapies that help alleviate the discomfort of patients during post-surgical chemotherapy or to find chemo-preventive alternatives to prevent the development of CRC.

Metformin is an antihyperglycemic biguanide drug that has been used as a first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus for decades. Over the past two decades, evidence has accumulated that metformin can reduce the risk of cancer and cancer-related mortality in diabetics. Several in vitro studies report anti-tumor activities of metformin in human cell lines such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), breast, lung,pancreatic, and colon cancer cell lines.

In a study published by the journal “Cancer Management and Research” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10259592/), MRIN Researchers are able to demonstrate the effects of Metformin on the proliferation and growth of two human colorectal cancer cell lines, HCT116 and SW620, in a concentration and time dependent manner.

This drug also induces Apoptosis and Cell Death in a dose dependent manner using Caspase 3- unrelated mechanism. As the observed cell death was per se not compliant with the characteristics of apoptosis in the classical sense. The actual mechanisms underlying Metformin-induced cell death in these two cell lines remain to be elucidated.