SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Each year in the US, nearly 267 thousand men and women are diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring chemo, radiation and surgery. Now, an exciting discovery by doctors with the University of Texas health San Antonio – it is an FDA-approved anti-depressant that is showing great promise in shrinking malignant tumors.

Melinda Sanchez loves her job at the library, snuggling with her dog, Mia, and reading art books. Recently though, she began to be plagued by a weird sensation.

Sanchez says, “It went on for like three months. At nighttime, it was the worst. It wasn’t painful, it was extremely annoying.”

Doctors ordered a mammogram, which uncovered absolutely nothing. 

Sanchez states, “I had another mammogram and still, nothing showed up. And they brought in an ultrasound and still, nothing showed up.”

But the pain became intolerable.    

Sanchez says, “I couldn’t ignore it. So, I knew something was wrong.”

The tumor was revealed in a biopsy, and her doctor enrolled her in clinical trials using the anti-depressant Imipramine, to shrink tumors. It already had, in mice. 

“I thought it was insane actually. At first, I was like, seriously?” says Sanchez.

But scientists were ready to move on from mice to human testing. Turns out, Imipramine worked better than some chemo.

Ratna Vadlamudi, PhD, OB GYN Professor at UT Health San Antonio says, “We were expecting some of the chemotherapy drugs may work but we didn’t see any effect of those. This one is interesting because it’s an anti-depressant already tested in the patient for 20 years.”

Imipramine stunts the growth of estrogen receptor-positive cancer cells, stopping the DNA in the cells from replicating.

“When the cancer cells grow, a lot of the damage from DNA happens.” Explains Ratna Vadlamudi, PhD.

Imipramine worked for Melinda to slow down her tumor’s growth.

Melinda says, “I personally, personally feel that everybody, man or woman, that’s going through cancer, should be on this drug.” 

The National Institutes of Health supports these repurposed drug studies. It reaches patients faster and is cheaper and preferable to starting from scratch.