Here's something to get happy and dance about – there's a possibility that the designer drug ecstasy could be used to cure cancer.
Scientists have modified the party drug in order to increase its tumour-killing properties.
The boffins, from Birmingham University, claimed the designer drug could be used to treat leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma after making
it 100 times more effective at suppressing growth.
Ecstasy was already known to be effective against more than half of white
blood cell cancers, but unfortunately the large dose required to treat a tumour
would also have killed the patient.
In a study published in the Investigational New Drugs journal, the scientists
said the new drug could be used by doctors to treat cancer if it can be
produced in a safe form.
The researchers, in collaboration with the University of Western
Australia, have chemically re-engineered ecstasy by taking some atoms
away and putting new ones in their place.
increased cancer-fighting effectiveness 100-fold. It means that if 100g
of un-modified ecstasy was needed to get the desired effect, only 1g of
the modified ecstasy would be needed to have the same effect.
Scientists say this also reduced the toxic effect on the brain.
The study's lead author, Professor John Gordon, said the findings were an "exciting next step towards
using a modified form of MDMA to help people suffering from blood cancer."
"While we would not wish to give people false hope, the results of this
research hold the potential for improvement in treatments in years to come, " he said.
Cancer Research Uk representative Dr Julie Sharp welcomed the news.