On the March 15th episode we talked about some old drugs that have learned new tricks. These chemicals started out fighting one disease, when researchers discovered they could also treat something else. Now comes news of a couple more molecules that might soon be moonlighting. First, scientists at Johns Hopkins have found that the ingredient in dandruff shampoo that soothes the itching on your scalp can also calm brain cells inside your head. The researchers were searching for chemicals that can interact with potassium channels… molecules that help quiet excited nerve cells. When these channels are damaged, neurons get overstimulated…a condition that can cause seizures.
The Hopkins team found that the active ingredient in dandruff shampoo makes defective potassium channels run smoothly. Which makes it a good candidate for treating conditions like epilepsy. Meanwhile, another team at Hopkins finds that a drug used to treat toenail fungus can also block the growth of new blood vessels. Such “angiogenesis inhibitors” are being tested for their ability to kill tumors, which need new blood vessels to survive and spread. Kind of makes you wonder what other medical breakthroughs might be lurking beneath your bathroom sink.