Repurposing old drugs to chemoprevention: the case of metformin.

Author(s): Heckman-Stoddard BM,  Gandini S,  Puntoni M,  Dunn BK,  DeCensi A,  Szabo E

Journal: Semin Oncol

Date: 2016 Feb

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): BGCRG, CADRG, LUACRG

PubMed ID: 26970131

PMC ID: PMC4789107

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.