Researchers from Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry are launching clinical trials to determine whether metformin, a drug often used to treat type 2 diabetes, could effectively prevent oral cancer.
The trial will take place over three years with oral leukoplakia and erythroplakia patients. Dr. Leigha Rock, director of Dal’s School of Dental Hygiene, and her team “are hoping this ground-breaking trial could ultimately help reduce the number of cases of oral cancer by detecting and treating lesions early, thereby diminishing the burden of a disease that is the eighth most common cancer in the world and has a five-year survival rate of just 50 per cent,” reports Dalhousie.
Metformin is used by type 2 diabetics to control their blood sugar, but other studies have suggested it can help patients with breast and kidney cancers. It started being considered a potential cancer treatment when cancer patients taking metformin for their diabetes seemed to have better outcomes with their cancer than those who were not taking the drug.