OREANDA-NEWS. Scientists at Goethe University in Frankfurt (Germany) have determined that the diarrhea drug loperamide can induce cell death in cultured glioblastoma, a deadly and incurable form of brain tumor that does not respond well to conventional chemotherapy. An unexpected cancer cure is reported in an article published in the journal Autophagy. It is briefly described in a press release on MedicalXpress.

The researchers 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. Stress destroys the reticulum with subsequent degradation and self-destruction (autophagy) of malignant cells. In normal cells, autophagy contributes to the destruction of damaged components, but in defective cells, it can cause irreversible processes leading to death.

Loperamide promotes increased activity of the transcription factor ATF4, which in turn induces autophagy. If ATF4 is blocked, then much fewer tumor cells will die from loperamide in culture.

Loperamide itself is safe for healthy tissues. However, further research is needed to determine how the drug is delivered to the brain across the blood-brain barrier.