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Medication for Rheumatoid Arthritis Could Help with Ovarian Cancer


A recent study has shown that auranofin, a drug used to treat RA, could treat ovarian cancer caused by BRCA1 mutation.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune diseases are often linked to different types of cancer. Autoimmune diseases and cancer can be easily associated due to the fact that they share some of the same treatments and one can cause the development of the other. This association has its benefits, given the fact that you could treat both diseases with only one type of treatment killing this way, two birds with one stone.

Unfortunately, the drugs used to treat both cancer and RA, such as methotrexate, rituximab, steroid treatment and therapies like IVIG infusions, have overlapped. Recent studies indicate that an old drug used for treating RA could have promising results for patient suffering from a specific type of ovarian cancer.

Curing the Disease

Tests show that patients suffering from ovarian cancer associated with the BRCA1 gene mutation have a positive response to treatment from auranofin, an older drug used for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

The most recent study done in the U.K., involved treating patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 with auranofin. The drug hasn’t been approved yet for usage in the U.K., but it has been used for some time now in the United States to treat arthritis.

According to the study, the ovarian cancer cells treated with auranofin showed during microscopic procedures that the drug had a potential for killing cancer cells. The tests showed that auranofin attacks and causes damage to cancerous cells that have the BRCA1 mutation. Statistically, auranofin was capable of reducing the survival rate of cancerous cells by 37%.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are already being done in order to see if it can be reused to fight this form of ovarian cancer and another type called recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer.

According to the statement of Awadhesh Jha, a professor of genetic toxicology and ecotoxicology at Plymouth University, auranofil seems to be a very promising drug. According to him the drug could be considered for future clinical studies to treat ovarian cancers and this could convince scientists to use some of the other available drugs which are not used as chemotherapeutic drugs. Since the toxicological and pharmaceutical properties of auranofil are well-documented using it for treating cancer looks very promising. Auranofil’s potential for treating cancer has been studied since the 1980s.

Work Needs to be Done

Patients who are currently using auranofil to treat rheumatoid arthritis shouldn’t worry if the drug becomes repurposed for treating cancer. They will still be able to get the medication via prescription.

Auranofil may not be repurposed any time soon. According to researchers there is not enough information to consider auranofin a viable treatment for ovarian cancer in women with a BRCA1 gene motion. Until they know for sure, auranofin stays the way it is.