Psoriasis drugs could be repurposed as osteosarcoma treatments, as both diseases respond to inhibition of the same target.

Osteosarcoma is a rare and difficult to cure bone cancer in children. Survival outcomes for children are poor, even with surgery and chemotherapy, as approximately 30% of patients die within five years of a diagnosis. However, increased understanding of the genetic drivers behind the disease has revealed new treatment possibilities.

A Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) indicated that the gene GRM4 is associated with increased susceptibility to osteosarcoma. GRM4 regulates the production of several molecules instrumental to immune system function, including the anti-inflammatory IL-23.

Using a gene knock out, researchers halted the production of IL-23 in mice, who were then prevented from developing osteosarcoma. When the production of IL-23 was knocked out in mice with osteosarcoma, tumour growth was suppressed. The results indicate that inhibiting the action of IL-23 could provide a treatment for osteosarcoma.

There are already drugs on the market that can inhibit the action of IL-23, as it is also a target for several autoimmune disorders. Many psoriasis drugs target IL-23 and have proven safety and efficacy. As using repurposed drugs to treat a new disease is cheaper, quicker and safer than developing new chemical molecules, psoriasis drugs should be investigated for their potential to treat osteosarcoma.

At the World Metastasis Summit, taking place in Boston this November, Kurt Gehlsen, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at  Biorasi will be discussing How Can we Fundamentally Improve Drug Development in Metastatic Disease?