Scientists have found that antihistamines, which is mainly used to treat allergies, runny noses, itching and insect bites and stings, may play a role in warding off tumors as well.
A new research report suggests that the drug may have significant anti-cancer properties as they interfere with the function of myeloid derived suppressor cell that is known to reduce the body's ability to fight tumors by interfering with the activity of cells.
Daniel H. Conrad, Ph.D., from Virginia Commonwealth said that though the research drew a connection between two diseases that aren't commonly linked: allergy and cancer, it's important to realize that this connection is new and needed more research before they could confirm if antihistamines could be used effectively in cancer therapies.
Conrad and his colleagues examined two groups of mice that involve myeloid derived suppressor cells, where the first group was infected with a rodent intestinal helminth to simulate a strong allergic response. Then they were injected with myeloid derived suppressor cells and treated with anti-histamines, cetirizine or cimetidine. Treatment with these anti-histamines reversed the effects of myeloid derived suppressor cells.
The second group of mice had tumors and were injected with myeloid derived suppressor cells and treated with the antihistamine, cimetidine. In this group, the antihistamine also reversed the enhanced tumor growth normally seen with myeloid derived suppressor cell injection. Finally, the scientists examined blood from patients with allergy symptoms and found that these patients had increased circulating myeloid derived suppressor cells over non-allergic controls.
The study was published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.