Drug repurposing: new opportunities for cancer patients

  • Computational approach to drug repurposing predicts that a significant 14% of patients could be treated with proven therapies.
Albert Antolin Repurposing

Medical oncology professionals often face the challenge of treating patients with advanced cancer who do not respond to standard treatments and have run out of approved therapeutic options. To overcome this hurdle more quickly, researchers around the world are making progress in the search for the reuse of drugs previously approved for another indication, and the results obtained are already accelerating their application in oncology. The fact that the drugs are already approved implies that their safety is already known, which facilitates their development for a new indication.

A recent study co-led by Dr. Albert Antolin, researcher of the IDIBELL Oncobell program and the ICO ProCure program, and Dr. Malaka Ameratunga, from the Department of Medical Oncology at The Alfred Hospital and Monash University in Melbourne (Australia), has shown that the combined strategy of biomarker analysis of patients and computational search for reusable drugs can identify therapies applicable to patients who today would have no treatment.

The results of their research, published in the journal Clinical and Translational Medicine, were obtained by next-generation genomic sequencing of a total of 94 patients, with the aim of analysing several biomarkers. Of these, the computational approach to drug repurposing predicts that a significant 14% could be treated with therapies already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and currently used for different diseases.

Although further studies will be needed to confirm this, the computational approach to drug repurposing may help to accurately identify new treatments for cancer patients who do not respond to standard therapies, accelerating the expansion of approved indications for these drugs to benefit more patients.


The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).


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