Get Your Body’s Cancer-Fighting Powers Pumped Up by Diabetes Meds!

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Antidiabetic drug boosts immune defences against breast cancer

Metformin, a type 2 diabetes drug, may help the immune system to better identify cancer cells and boost the immune response against them, according to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, said the university in a press release on Friday.

Metformin is a widely prescribed drug for managing type 2 diabetes. In recent years, indications of its potential anticancer properties have emerged in research.

The newly published study found that metformin activates the body’s immune cells. The effect was particularly observed in what are known as dendritic cells, which are the most effective in helping the immune system identify cancer cells as foreign entities.

“Our study found that metformin contributed to the metabolism of dendritic cells so that they became active and enhanced the immune response against cancer cells,” said Rita Turpin, the first author of the study.

Identifying this effect can help to develop anticancer therapies based on the combined effect of metformin and the mechanisms that activate the immune system.

The researchers investigated the effects of metformin in human breast cancer tissue samples, which contained living cancer cells and immune cells that had infiltrated the cancer tissue.

The living tissue cultures used in the study, known as patient-derived explant cultures, show what cancer drugs do to cancer cells and, at the same time, what they do to immune cells that have penetrated the cancer tissue.

Research group leader Juha Klefström considers the study groundbreaking.

“Our work demonstrates that we can learn a lot about how cancer drugs influence tumour-resident immune cells by investigating living patient-derived tumour samples” he said.

According to Klefström, patient-derived explant cultures can be used to identify drugs that kill cancer cells but leave the immune cells unharmed. Or they can be used to find safe and tolerable drugs, such as metformin, which help immune cells to become active and defend against cancer.

Without breast cancer patients donating tumour samples, such research would not be possible.

“We are truly grateful to all the patients who participated in the study for their invaluable contribution to the promotion of cancer research,” Klefström said.


  1. RachelJohnson says

    I find the study fascinating! It’s amazing how a diabetes drug like metformin could potentially boost the immune system against cancer cells. This could be a promising development in the fight against breast cancer.

  2. Emily80 says

    Does metformin have similar effects on other types of cancer cells besides breast cancer?

    1. StevenJohnson64 says

      Yes, Emily80, studies have shown that metformin may also have positive effects on other types of cancer cells, such as colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Research suggests that metformin’s ability to enhance the immune response against cancer cells is not limited to breast cancer. It’s an exciting area of ongoing research with promising results.

  3. EmilySmith says

    As a regular user of metformin for my type 2 diabetes, I am pleasantly surprised by this study’s findings. It’s reassuring to know that the medication not only helps manage my diabetes but also potentially boosts my body’s ability to fight cancer. This research opens up exciting possibilities for future anticancer therapies. Kudos to the researchers for this valuable contribution!

  4. EmilySmith says

    As someone who has type 2 diabetes, I find this study fascinating. If metformin can also help fight cancer, it would be a game-changer in managing both conditions effectively.

  5. EmilySmith_1985 says

    Could metformin potentially be used as a complementary treatment for cancer alongside conventional therapies?

    1. JohnDoe_1990 says

      Yes, Emily! Metformin shows promise as a potential complimentary cancer treatment when combined with conventional therapies. The study at the University of Helsinki revealed that metformin enhances the immune response against cancer cells, specifically activating dendritic cells to better identify and combat cancer cells. Utilizing metformin in conjunction with current treatments could lead to more effective anticancer therapies. Exciting possibilities lie ahead in the fight against cancer with the help of metformin.

  6. Rita Taylor says

    As a medical researcher myself, I find this study incredibly promising. Metformin’s ability to activate immune cells and enhance the immune response against cancer cells could revolutionize cancer treatment methods. Looking forward to more advancements in this field!

  7. EmmaSmith82 says

    Could metformin potentially be used as a primary treatment for cancer patients in the future?

    1. JohnDoe57 says

      Metformin’s potential in enhancing the immune response against cancer cells is indeed intriguing. While more research is needed to determine its effectiveness as a primary treatment, the findings open up possibilities for developing innovative anticancer therapies in the future.

  8. Julia_Smith says

    I believe that the potential of metformin in boosting the immune system’s response against cancer cells is truly fascinating. This study sheds light on a promising avenue for developing innovative anticancer therapies. Looking forward to further advancements in this field!

  9. Jenny_Smith says

    How significant are the potential anticancer properties of metformin in boosting the immune system’s response against cancer cells? Is this study a breakthrough in cancer treatment?

  10. EmilySmith says

    It’s fascinating to see how a medication used for diabetes management like Metformin could have such significant potential in boosting the body’s fight against cancer. This study highlights the importance of exploring unconventional avenues in cancer treatment. Exciting times ahead for medical research!

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