Treating prostate cancer with antidepressants

Imagine treating Prostate Cancer with an anti-depressant medication.

A new USC School of Pharmacy study suggests that the monoamine oxidase-A enzyme (MAO-A) pathway could be used for treating prostate cancer. The drugs under consideration are the new, third generation of reversible, selective MAO-A inhibitors such as moclobemide, toloxatone and brofaromine, also known as RIMAs (reversible inhibitors of MAO-A).

The MAO-A gene is relevant for depression and other mental illnesses, as well as autism and aggression.

The current study showed an increased MAO-A expression in prostate cancer.

So, reducing MAO-A expression reduces prostate cancer development by decreasing cell proliferation and cancer stem cells.  

Because MAO-A inhibitors are successfully being used to treat other diseases linked to this enzyme, such as depression, the right inhibitors also hold the potential and in treating prostate cancer and reducing prostate cancer growth.

“The results of this study are significant as they suggest that the MAO-A pathway is an important target in prostate cancer,” said study co-author Mitchell Gross of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This is especially exciting because MAO inhibitors are already FDA-approved and available to treat depression.”

The results are being tested now in human clinical trials as prostate cancer  patients receive treatment with MAO inhibitors (phenelzine sulfate). The preliminary data are promising.