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Study: No gain from methadone in cancer therapy
Positive effects in methadone cancer therapy have been reported time and again in recent years. But researchers have now tested this man-made opioid for the therapy of brain tumors and found that it is of no benefit. In some cases, this can even lead to faster growth of the tumor cells.
Brain tumors can affect anyone
According to health experts, brain tumors can affect anyone. Every year, more than 8,000 such diseases are diagnosed in Germany alone. Although many patients can be helped thanks to modern treatment methods, brain tumors are the most common cause of death among childhood cancers. There are reports of new therapeutic approaches in connection with this cancer. Scientists from Leipzig have now investigated the use of methadone in cancer therapy for brain tumors and found that the opioid is ineffective here.
According to a statement from the University of Leipzig, methadone was hailed as a potential savior in cancer therapy after a scientific publication.
A petition even called on the Bundestag to further investigate its effects in cancer treatment in clinical studies.
Researchers at Leipzig University Medical Center have now tested methadone for the therapy of brain tumors in a laboratory study and come to a sobering conclusion.
The study results were recently published in the specialist magazine "Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology".
Possible effect of methadone in cancer therapy examined
According to the information, the study is a reaction to the public debate and the possible effect of methadone in cancer therapy, especially for the treatment of incurable tumors of the central nervous system, so-called glioblastomas.
For the study, the scientists created primary cell cultures from brain tumors, which were removed from six patients.
"In addition to tumor cell cultures, we also created cultures of healthy patient cells for the first time in order to compare the effect of methadone on both cell types," explained study leader Prof. Dr. Frank Gaunitz from the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig.
Effective standard treatment
According to the researchers, the tumor cell cultures were treated with standard therapy for glioblastoma: radiation and chemotherapy.
In addition, the scientists confronted the cells with methadone in different concentrations and were able to observe whether methadone has an additional effect and the standard therapy works better.
"Our results show that the standard treatment is effective, but no gain is achieved through methadone," says Prof. Gaunitz, who is also head of the research laboratories of the clinic and polyclinic for neurosurgery at Leipzig University Hospital.
“It should also be of no use if a patient only takes methadone. That would only work in concentrations that are fatal to the body, ”said the expert.
Self-medication could be fatal
"We were also able to confirm the work of other research groups that some tumor cells grow even faster at low methadone concentrations."
In the experiment, the healthy cells were simultaneously confronted with different concentrations of the opioid.
It was shown that they too are destroyed at doses at which cancer cells also die.
Gaunitz advises patients against self-medication with methadone: If previous illnesses such as a damaged liver are present, it could quickly be fatal. (ad)