Repurposing psychiatric drugs as anti-cancer agents

Cancer Lett. 2018 Apr 10;419:257-265. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.01.058. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


Cancer is a major public health problem and one of the leading contributors to the global disease burden. The high cost of development of new drugs and the increasingly severe burden of cancer globally have led to increased interest in the search and development of novel, affordable anti-neoplastic medications. Antipsychotic drugs have a long history of clinical use and tolerable safety; they have been used as good targets for drug repurposing. Being used for various psychiatric diseases for decades, antipsychotic drugs are now reported to have potent anti-cancer properties against a wide variety of malignancies in addition to their antipsychotic effects. In this review, an overview of repurposing various psychiatric drugs for cancer treatment is presented, and the putative mechanisms for the anti-neoplastic actions of these antipsychotic drugs are reviewed.

Keywords: Antipsychotic drugs; Cancer treatment; Drug repurposing; Histone deacetylases; Phenothiazines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Repositioning / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents