A little less than a decade ago, the potential benefits of ecstasy in fighting cancer cells in blood became known to the scientific community and the world.
A study published in 2006, by a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham, showed that ecstasy and anti-depressants, such as Prozac, had tumor-killing properties that were potentially effective in stopping the growth of cancer cells in blood. The bad news was that the doses required for treatment were so high they could kill a patient or any human being.
However, the research team, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, has redesigned the MDMA molecule (as the drug is known chemically) making its anti-cancer properties up to a 100 times more effective, featured in the Investigational New Drugs journal.
This not only reduces the amount of drug needed to produce the desired effect in blood-type cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and melanoma, but it also decreases the toxic impact in the brain. Researchers believe the drug feels high affinity for fats in the cancer cells’ membrane, which “becomes soapy”, causing it to break down, killing the cell.
Interestingly enough, experiments showed that cancerous cells were more susceptible than those healthy ones, which would make the treatment more specific, decreasing side effects and, unlike chemo and radiotherapy, keeping the normal cells safe.
Since the studies have only been demonstrated on sample tubes, it may take further studies, clinical trials and maybe another decade or so before doctors start prescribing Ecstasy for cancer treatment, but as Dr. David Grant, scientific director of the charity Leukemia and Lymphoma Research stated: “Further work is required, but this research is a significant step forward in developing a potential new cancer drug”.