Despised by some diabetics before because of its side effects, the most prescribed drug for diabetes, metformin, now appears to be the next “miracle drug.” Besides being a possible anti-ageing medication, it is being studied now as a possible cancer drug.

Two pharmaceutical companies, Avalon and TPG, are leading a $15-million newly established biotech firm in San Diego that would study the advancement of new compounds based on the anti-cancer activity of metformin. In the past decade, scientists from three San Diego universities have demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of metformin under certain circumstances, Xeconomy reports.

Established in mid-November, Enlibrium, a Series A investment, also has Correlation Ventures and Osage University Partners as part of the agreement. The $15-million investment is deemed sufficient to serve as capital to advance the lead compounds of the new biotech firm through Phase 1 clinical trials. To optimise the under of the compounds on different types of cancers, Enlibrium would identify biomarkers.

In 2014, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers Richard Pietras and Michael Jung used metformin on mouse models with triple-negative breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. They produced some “compelling data,” according to David Campbell, entrepreneur-inn-residence at San Diego’s Avalon Ventures. He says the data has not been published yet, but the data could only be published if the two sign a confidentiality agreement with UCLA.

Campbell explains that for certain cancers, metformin acts like a carburetor choke valve that strangles the process of the proliferation of out-of-control cancer cells. Since cancer cells are high-performing engines that find it difficult to adjust to a change in the ATP cycle, some cancer cells “end up in a state of energetic crisis, and they go in apoptosis” or programmed death cell in the presence of metformin, says Campbell.

He adds that metformin analogs could be used in combination with drugs, such as Avastin and Paclitaxel, which works on alternative pathways that those drugs. He adds that the popular diabetes drug as better safety profile that many oncology medication, reports Medcitynews.

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