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Metformin slows down aggressive skin cancer in Epidermolysis bullosa by influencing energy processes

New scientific publication from the EB House

People with recessive dystrophic EB (RDEB) have a high risk of developing life-threatening squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) due to repeated wounding, inflammation, and impeded wound healing. Scientists have been intensely working to understand the underlying causes and aggressive behavior of SCC in RDEB compared to its progress in non-EB patients. Increasing evidence points to a role of altered metabolism in SCC formation. It is known that tumors grow significantly faster than healthy tissue. Rapidly dividing cancer cells thus not only need higher levels of energy but also use different methods of energy production compared to normal, slow-growing cells. Generally, cancer cells obtain the majority of their energy through the process of anaerobic glycolysis.
In this study, researchers examined whether targeting the energy metabolism of tumor cells could hinder or slow down the growth of this aggressive skin cancer. They found that RDEB cancer cells, in comparison to normal skin cells, use more energy through a process called oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). This discovery is significant as it suggests that SCC cells might be dependent on this specific type of energy. They also discovered that the diabetes drug Metformin can effectively slow down both OXPHOS and glycolysis energy metabolism. By testing Metformin on cancer cells in a laboratory model the researchers observed a delay in tumor growth.

The results indicate that Metformin could potentially be used as an anti-cancer therapy for patients with RDEB in the future. However, it is important to note that Metformin has some side effects, and its effectiveness may depend on the timing and dosage of treatment. Laboratory studies often use high doses that would not be safe for humans. Despite these concerns, the direct application of Metformin on the skin, in addition to regular treatment or as a preventive measure against cancerous skin changes in at-risk wounds, could be a promising option for RDEB patients. Further research is needed to determine the most effective use of Metformin in reducing the risk of developing SCC.



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