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Drug Repurposing in Oncology: Current Evidence and Future Direction


Zhenzhan Zhang, Jianguang Ji* and Hao Liu*   Pages 1 - 18 ( 18 )


Background: Drug repurposing, the application of known drugs and compounds with a non-oncology primary purpose, might be an attractive strategy to offer more effective treatment options to patients with cancer at a low cost and reduced time.

Methods: This review described a total of 10 kinds of non-oncological drugs from more than 100 mechanical studies as well as evidence from population-based studies. The future direction of repurposed drug screening was discussed by using patient-derived tumor organoids.

Results: Many old drugs showed previously unknown effects or off-target effects and can be intelligently applied for cancer chemoprevention and therapy. The identification of repurposed drugs needs to combine evidence from mechanical studies and population-based studies. Due to the heterogeneity of cancer, patient-derived tumor organoids can be used to screen the non-oncological drugs in vitro.

Conclusion: These identified old drugs could be repurposed in oncology and might be added as adjuvants and finally benefit patients with cancers.


Drug repurposing, anti-cancer, population cohort, drug screening, organoid, cancer treatment.


Department of General Surgery, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Center for Primary Health Care Research, Lund University/Region Skåne, Department of General Surgery, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou

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