PABA Enhances Conventional Cancer Therapies

Sunscreen Ingredient Enhances Cancer Treatment

Studies have demonstrated that the cell-killing effects of radiation or standard chemotherapy drugs were enhanced when tumor cells were grown in dishes containing PABA (para-amino benzoic acid), an ingredient in some sunscreens.

The results were presented at the International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapies in Boston (MA, USA).

Researchers at New York University School of Medicine (NY, USA; analyzed the effects of PABA and radiation alone and together on several cancer cell lines grown in laboratory dishes, as well as on implanted tumors in mice and chick embryos. In both experiments, they found that when PABA and radiation were combined, tumor growth was substantially reduced, compared to treatment with either PABA or radiation alone. In a similar fashion, the researchers found that PABA significantly improved the antitumor effects of drugs such as Taxol.

These early findings suggest that PABA may optimize current cancer treatments by making tumor cells more vulnerable to certain chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation, said Peter Brooks, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology and cell biology at NYU, who made the presentation at the conference. We will continue to access the cellular basis for PABAs effects.

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