Preliminary results (read: in a test tube) have shown that a modified version of the illegal recreational drug ecstasy may be a way to kill blood cancer cells. Further research is needed before human testing can begin, but the break through has sparked other researchers to pursue this potential cure with limited side-effects.
Blood cancers affect not just blood but lymph nodes and bone marrow (for example lymphoma originally infects lymph nodes but can spread to infect bone marrow and blood).
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a recreational drug that causes intense sensations favored by certain party-ers. Taking ecstasy is comparatively safe compared to other recreational drugs, but may have some at least semi-permanent side-effects in the brain that can cause depression.
Research had already found that ecstasy and prozac have an effect on blood cancer cells, but not to a degree that would be safe or useful in treatment. By modifying ecstasy to be more potent, the researchers achieved amazing results at eliminating most types of blood cancer in vitro. They also think that they reduced some of the neurological effect in the modified ecstasy.
The modified ecstasy is more drawn to blood cancer cells than healthy cells, and aids in breaking them down.
At least ten years away from being useful, this research, combined with other recent news, is very promising. It seems that the next generation may have to fear antibiotic resistant infections more than cancer!
How do you feel about all these cancer fighting breakthroughs? Hopeful, or skeptical? Discuss with me in the comments!