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Drug repurposing—an emerging strategy in cancer therapeutics


Cancer is a complex disease affecting millions of people around the world. Despite advances in surgical and radiation therapy, chemotherapy continues to be an important therapeutic option for the treatment of cancer. The current treatment is expensive and has several side effects. Also, over time, cancer cells develop resistance to chemotherapy, due to which there is a demand for new drugs. Drug repurposing is a novel approach that focuses on finding new applications for the old clinically approved drugs. Current advances in the high-dimensional multiomics landscape, especially proteomics, genomics, and computational omics-data analysis, have facilitated drug repurposing. The drug repurposing approach provides cheaper, effective, and safe drugs with fewer side effects and fastens the process of drug development. The review further delineates each repurposed drug’s original indication and mechanism of action in cancer. Along with this, the article also provides insight upon artificial intelligence and its application in drug repurposing. Clinical trials are vital for determining medication safety and effectiveness, and hence the clinical studies for each repurposed medicine in cancer, including their stages, status, and National Clinical Trial (NCT) identification, are reported in this review article. Various emerging evidences imply that repurposing drugs is critical for the faster and more affordable discovery of anti-cancerous drugs, and the advent of artificial intelligence-based computational tools can accelerate the translational cancer-targeting pipeline.

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The authors wish to thank the School of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, D Y Patil Deemed to be University for providing the necessary facilities. M.K.P. acknowledges S. Dubinett, B. Gomperts, and V. Hartenstein for providing the constant support and mentoring.

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Authors and Affiliations



MP and JA: conceptualization, resources, original draft preparation, reviewing, and editing. KT and SP: writing, editing, and reviewing. AD, DS, SS, UK, SN: original draft preparation. SD and SB: editing, reviewing, and supervision.

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Correspondence to Manash K. Paul or Jyotirmoi Aich.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Key points

1. Drug repurposing is a novel approach that can be implemented in oncology to find new applications for the old clinically approved drugs in cancer therapeutics.

2. Targeting critical mechanisms of cancer using repurposed drugs can be a prominent strategy in cancer treatment.

3. Advances in artificial intelligence and technology-based approaches may improve the discovery and use of repurposed drugs to target cancer.

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Turabi, K.S., Deshmukh, A., Paul, S. et al. Drug repurposing—an emerging strategy in cancer therapeutics. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol (2022).

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  • Cancer
  • Drug repurposing
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