The drug is call naftopidil. It is marketed in the U.S. under the brand name Flivas and is known as an alpha blocker or an alpha-adrenergic antagonist. In addition to high blood pressure, naftopidil is used to treat certain prostate conditions and Raynaud’s disease. There is increasing evidence that it may also have antitumor properties on a variety of cancer types, including prostate cancer.
Respiratory medicine researchers at Hyogo College of Medicine in Nishinomiya, Japan have been studying the effects of naftopidil on mesothelioma for several years. In their most recent study, they tested naftopidil on mesothelioma cells in the lab and in live mice, with the same encouraging results. In the cells, naftopidil upregulated the expression of microRNA associated with programmed cell death (apoptosis). In mice carrying human mesothelioma, the news was even better.
“Naftopidil drastically suppressed tumor growth in mice inoculated with these cells,” reports lead author Koji Mikami in the journal Pharmacology. Dr. Mikami and his colleagues conclude that the study raises the possibility of developing naftopidil as a treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
News that a naftopidil analog called HUHS1015 reduced cell viability in malignant mesothelioma cells and suppressed tumor growth in mice was published in the journal Cancer Science earlier this year by another Japanese research team. That study also concluded that the naftopidil analog “could be developed as an effective anticancer drug for treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma”.
Mesothelioma is an intractable malignancy that starts on the membranes that surround internal organs. Although mesothelioma can take decades to develop, once it progresses to the point that it begins to cause symptoms like chest pain and coughing, the prognosis is usually very poor. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.
Mikami, K et al, “Naftopidil is useful for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma”, October 4, 2014, Pharmacology, Epub ahead of print
Kaku, Yoshiko et al, “Newly synthesized anticancer drug HUHS1015 is effective on malignant pleural mesothelioma”, April 18, 2014, Cancer Science, pp. 883-889.