Repurposed Medications for Brain Cancer

Dr. Charles Meakin Integrative Oncology
Dr. Meakin has over 33 years of experience treating cancer patients, using standard of care protocols and adding cutting-edge metabolic strategies in cancer care. Dr. Meakin worked at hospitals and private clinics and most recently served as the U.S. Care Oncology Clinic (COC) medical director. He blends standard treatments with holistic metabolic strategies for improved outcomes.


Brain Cancer Metabolism 

Brain cancer metabolism refers to how the cells in a brain tumor use energy and nutrients differently than normal brain cells. The metabolism of cancer cells changes to help them grow and survive quickly. 

Here are some essential things to know about brain cancer metabolism:

  • Brain cancer cells consume more glucose (sugar) than normal brain cells. This metabolic pattern gives them the energy they need to grow and multiply.
  • Brain cancer cells often rely on glycolysis, which breaks down glucose into a substance called lactate, even when oxygen is available. This atypical pattern helps them produce energy and other molecules needed for growth.
  • The function of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, may be altered or not work correctly in brain cancer cells (2011). This aberration can affect their ability to produce energy from fat which produces ketones and make them depend more on glucose metabolism through glycolysis, even in the presence of ample oxygen.
  • Brain cancer cells produce more lactate and are thus an additional energy source for the tumor cells. It can also affect the surrounding environment and help the tumor grow.
  • The metabolism of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, is often disrupted in brain cancer cells. Brain cancer cells may take up more amino acids to support the production of proteins and other vital molecules for tumor growth.
  • Understanding the unique metabolic characteristics of brain cancer cells is essential for developing targeted treatments that can disrupt their metabolism and slow down tumor growth.


Potential Benefits of Targeting Brain Cancer Metabolism

  • Specified treatment: By focusing on the unique metabolic characteristics of cancer cells, therapies can be developed to specifically attack cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy brain tissue.
  • Slower tumor growth: By disrupting the metabolic pathways that cancer cells rely on for growth and energy, treatments can slow down the growth of brain tumors.
  • Improved treatment effectiveness: Combining metabolic therapies with standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can enhance their effectiveness by making cancer cells more responsive to these treatments.
  • Overcoming drug resistance: Targeting the metabolic pathways involved in drug resistance can help overcome resistance and improve treatment response.
  • Reduced side effects: Targeted metabolic therapies can potentially result in fewer side effects compared to traditional therapies that affect healthy cells as well which improves the overall well-being of patients.



Top Researched Repurposed Medications for Treating Brain Cancer


Mebendazole (MBZ) is a medicine usually used to treat infections caused by parasites. However, in recent years, there has been growing interest in exploring its potential as an anticancer agent, including its use in treating brain cancer. So far, MBZ is showing promising results on two major paths of brain cancer research:

  1. Anti-glioma activity: Mebendazole impacts the aggressive brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) by fostering cell death and cellular arrest. Mebendazole has
  2. Synergistic effects with other therapies: Scientists have also looked at using Mebendazole with other standard brain cancer treatments, like radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and early works show improved effectiveness.



Statins are well established to lower LDL cholesterol and impact cardiovascular risk. Ongoing research also explores the potential use of statins in treating brain cancer.

  • Statins can slow down tumor growth by stopping cancer cells from multiplying and causing cell death.
  • Statins can hinder the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need to get nutrients and oxygen, impeding tumor growth and spread.
  • Statins have anti-inflammatory properties that impede brain cancer development and progression. By reducing inflammation, statins may positively affect tumor growth in the surrounding area.
  • Furthermore, they may make other cancer treatments more effective without additional costs or side effects, improving the therapeutic ratio and outcome.



 Metformin is used to help people with type 2 diabetes. Regarding repurposing it to treat brain cancer, some results are similar to statins, with similar anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects. Metformin also downregulates the abnormal high glucose metabolism unique to many cancers and thus stresses brain tumor viability, especially with concurrent standard-of-care therapies deployed.



Doxycycline is an antibiotic commonly used to treat bacterial and atypical infections such as Lymes, malaria, and rickettsial diseases. However, researchers are also studying it as a potential treatment for cancer end even brain gliomas.

Studies have Doxycycline can disrupt RNA protein production and thus impair cell viability and growth. Doxycycline may also disrupt the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow and spread. Additionally, Doxycycline inhibits enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that cancer cells use to break down surrounding tissues and invade other areas.

Like the others, Doxycycline may work well with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, making them more effective by sensitizing cancer cells to their effects.


Other Potential Metabolic Therapies for Brain Cancer

In addition to repurposed medicines, several other potential metabolic therapies are under investigation to manage cancer.


Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat, and protein diet that forces the body to rely on ketones instead of glucose as a predominant energy source. It has shown potential in preclinical and early clinical studies for brain cancer treatment. By altering the metabolism of cancer cells, the ketogenic diet may inhibit tumor growth and enhance the effectiveness of other therapies.



Intermittent fasting or prolonged fasting refers to periods of restricted calorie intake or complete food avoidance. Like the Ketogenic diet, fasting triggers the use of ketones as the predominant energy source and may sensitize cancer cells to treatments and potentially slow down tumor growth. Fasting-induced metabolic changes may also favor the protection of normal tissues from therapy side effects and improve tolerance and quality of life impacts to care.


Metabolic Inhibitors

Researchers are studying various metabolic inhibitors that target specific pathways involved in cancer cell metabolism. For example, inhibitors of glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose) or inhibitors of particular enzymes involved in metabolic pathways may disrupt cancer cells’ energy production and growth.


Metabolic Modulators

Modulating metabolic pathways through specific compounds or drugs is another area of research. By targeting particular metabolic enzymes or molecules involved in cancer cell metabolism, researchers aim to alter the metabolism of cancer cells and hinder their growth.


Mitochondrial-targeted therapies

Mitochondria play a crucial role in energy production. Mitochondrial-targeted therapies selectively affect the metabolism and function of mitochondria in cancer cells, potentially leading to their demise.



How to Start a Metabolic Optimization

The scientific community is making giant strides forward when targeting brain cancer metabolism. However, navigating through the abundance of information can be overwhelming for those seeking the best treatment options. Traditional doctors may not always have an awareness or access to these metabolic options that could significantly affect patient outcomes.


Our 3- months metabolic program, led by Charles Meakin MD, an experienced integrative oncologist, offers an approach that focuses on metabolic strategies to layer on with traditional therapies. Dr. Meakin will carefully prescribe safe and tailored medications and lifestyle strategies for your care.

Click here for more information about the Metabolic Program (available in 45) states>>

Looking to Start a Metabolic Program? We can help.

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