Scientists in Ireland have shown how a drug that has been prescribed for 60 years to treat alcohol addiction can also resensitize treatment-resistant non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to chemotherapy. The drug, disulfiram—also known as Antabuse—blocks aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which is a key enzyme involved in metabolizing alcohol, but is also involved in early stem cell differentiation. A team led by Martin P. Barr, Ph.D., at the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, St. James’s Hospital and Trinity College in Dublin, has now demonstrated that using Antabuse to block ALDH1 in subpopulations of cisplatin-resistant cancer stem cells (CSCs) in NSCLC cell lines resensitizes the cells to chemotherapy.

“Disulfiram is an already approved drug with well-tolerated side effects, which can be taken orally,” Dr. Barr stated. “Its potential use may give chemotherapeutic drugs such as cisplatin a new lease of life in the treatment of resistant lung tumors. We believe that our …