Arthritis drug slows tumor growth

March 30, 2011

A drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis also appears capable of inhibiting the growth of malignant melanoma, ScienceDaily.com reports.

Boston - A drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis also appears capable of inhibiting the growth of malignant melanoma, ScienceDaily.com reports.

In a collaborative effort, researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and the University of East Anglia in England have found that leflunomide, long used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, significantly restricts tumor growth in mice. They further discovered that when the drug was combined with PLX4720, a new melanoma therapy currently in clinical trials, the result was near-total blockage of tumor growth.

The next step is clinical trials on the use of leflunomide to treat melanoma and, following that, regulatory approval for that indication. ScienceDaily.com reports that because leflunomide is already licensed to treat arthritis, this process should be faster than usual and that a new treatment for melanoma could be available in about five years.

The study appears in the March 24 issue of the journal Nature.