The observation that people taking medication for schizophrenia have lower cancer rates than others has prompted new research revealing that anti-psychotic drugs could help treat some major cancers.

The team, from UNSW's School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science and from the University of Queensland, found that the anti-psychotic drug, pimozide, kills lung, breast and brain cancer cells in in-vitro laboratory experiments.

Epidemiological studies in the past have noted the low rate of cancer among schizophrenic patients. The patients as a group have lower rates of lung cancer than other people, even though they are more likely to smoke.

Rapidly-dividing cancer cells require cholesterol and lipids to grow and the researchers suspect that pimozide works by blocking the synthesis or movement of cholesterol and lipids in cancer cells.

The findings are reported in the current online issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

Read the full story on the Faculty of Science website.

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