By Philippedelavie. CC0 Creative Commons.

UNAM researchers won the National Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (CANIFARMA) 2017 Award this Tuesday Dec. 12 for proving that Transkrip, a treatment for cervical cancer, has similar effects against T-Cell lymphoma.

T-Cell lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects T-lymphocytes, a white blood cell part of the central immune system. This cancer affects a small number of Mexicans. Out of every 8,000 lymphomas diagnosed in the country per year, less than 1 percent are cases of T-Cell lymphoma but its incidence is expected to increase.

Transkrip is a mixture of hydralazine and magnesium valproate. These two compounds have a long history in the medical sector albeit treating entirely different maladies. Hydralazine, a vasodilator, is used to treat high blood pressure to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Magnesium valproate is an anticonvulsant commonly used to treat epilepsy.

UNAM’s Dr. Alfonso Dueñas reported as far back as 2003 that hydralazine also inhibited the enzyme DNA methyltransferase. Around the same time, a German group reported that magnesium valproate inhibited histone deacetylases. These two discoveries allowed Dueñas’ research group to direct their study towards the treatment of cancer.

The medication was approved by COFEPRIS for the treatment of cervical cancer in 2010 but Dueñas continued to research the medication in other types of cancer and discovered that the combination displayed positive activity against lymphoma. His research group tested Transkrip in 14 patients with T-Cell Lymphoma and observed a total remission in 10 of them.

Transkrip is approved for commercialization in Mexico by COFEPRIS and the FDA, which qualifies it as an orphan drug.

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