The drug, Antabuse, appears to ‘freeze’ cancer in place, preventing them from getting rid of waste, which, ultimately, kills them.
Danish and Czech researchers tested the drug in live mice and human cancer cells and found that it was effective in both without harming other cells.
These findings are not enough to indicate how Antabuse would behave in living people, but the drug is already FDA-approved and its patent is long expired, so if further testing is as promising as this study’s findings, the drug could someday be a cheap alternative cancer treatment.
Scientists were first tipped off to the Antabuse’s potential power against cancer by a series of unfortunate coincidences documented in a 1971 case study.
Doctors prescribed the drug to a 38-year-old woman who had turned to alcoholism to cope with her losing battle with breast cancer, which had spread to her bones.
Her physicians halted her cancer treatment and gave her Antabuse.
She lived for another 10 years before a drunken fall from a window killed her.
When they performed an autopsy, the doctors were shocked to find that while Antabuse had evidently not stopped the woman from drinking, the cancer cells had largely disappeared from her bones.