Syrosingopine Plus Metformin Have Potential Anti-Cancer Effects Interview with:
Dr. Don Gary Benjamin
Biozentrum, University of Basel
Basel, Switzerland. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We initiated the study to find a co-drug that would increase the anti-cancer effect of the commonly prescribed anti-diabetic drug metformin. Metformin is a very well tolerated medication, however the dosage required to show anti-cancer activity is higher than that usually prescribed, hence the aim of the study. We found that metformin in combination with a second drug, syrosingopine (an anti-hypertensive), potently kills cancer cells in a variety of pre-clinical models. Quite nicely, both these drugs combine to kill the cells at a concentration where they have no impact on cell growth when applied singly. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The altered metabolism of cancer cells that supports unrestricted proliferation also creates vulnerabilities that can be targeted to selectively kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells untouched. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Combination therapy should be studied more in cancer. Single-agents eventually become ineffective due to the development of drug resistance, while application of two agents, as seen in our study, can uncover hidden vulnerabilities in cancer. A major area to focus on would be in the simultaneous inhibition of signaling pathways that are frequently deregulated in cancer. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We plan to initiate a small-scale clinical trial in the near future. In the meantime we are still working on the mode of action underlying the synthetic lethal interaction and are writing up the results. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Don Benjamin, Marco Colombi, Sravanth K. Hindupur, Charles Betz, Heidi A. Lane, Mahmoud Y. M. El-Shemerly, Min Lu, Luca Quagliata, Luigi Terracciano, Suzette Moes, Timothy Sharpe, Aleksandra Wodnar-Filipowicz, Christoph Moroni, Michael N. Hall. Syrosingopine sensitizes cancer cells to killing by metformin. Science Advances, 2016; 2 (12): e1601756 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601756

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Last Updated on January 5, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD