14 December 2018
Cancer is a disease that affects and kills millions of people worldwide. Breast cancer, especially, has a high incidence and mortality, and is challenging to treat. Due to its high impact on the health sector, oncological therapy is the subject of an intense and very expensive research. To improve this therapy and reduce its costs, strategies such as drug repurposing and drug combinations have been extensively studied. Drug repurposing means giving new usefulness to drugs which are approved for the therapy of various diseases, but, in this case, are not approved for cancer therapy. On the other hand, the purpose of combining drugs is that the response that is obtained is more advantageous than the response obtained by the single drugs. Using drugs with potential to be repurposed, combined with 5-fluorouracil, the aim of this project was to investigate whether this combination led to therapeutic benefits, comparing with the isolated drugs. We started with a screening of the most promising drugs, with verapamil and itraconazole being chosen. Several cellular viability studies, cell death and proliferation studies, mainly in MCF-7 cells (Michigan Cancer Foundation-7, human breast adenocarcinoma cells) were performed. Studies were also carried out to understand the effect of the drugs at the level of possible therapeutic resistance, evaluating the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Combining all the results, the conclusion is that the combination of verapamil and itraconazole with 5-fluorouracil had benefits, mainly by decreasing cell viability and proliferation. Furthermore, the combination of itraconazole and 5-fluorouracil seemed to be the most effective, being an interesting focus in future studies.