Newswise — A new study examined the effects of local anesthetics combined with standard chemotherapy for treatment of incurable triple-negative (TN) breast cancer, as well as melanoma. The results suggest that the combined treatment can lower the effective chemotherapy dosage, reduce side effects, improve tumor cell apoptosis, and reduce tumor cell migration. 

Researchers at the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO), at the Center for Biotechnology, Temple University, Philadelphia, and the University of L'Aquila, Italy, and the University of Siena, Italy, examined the effects of two anesthetics, ropivacaine and levobupivacaine, on two different human cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-231, triple-negative breast cancer, and A375, melanoma. This discovery may have important implications for the design of new drugs and therapeutic interventions for these recurrent and incurable tumors. 

The findings were published September 20, 2019 in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

Researchers are pursuing possible strategies for defeating TN breast cancer and melanoma by interfering with cell proliferation and apoptosis induction because these forms of cancer are notoriously difficult to treat. Building on the previously indicated effect of anesthetics in breast cancer cells and in other types of cancer in counteracting cell cycle progression, this study explores more in-depth how anesthetics may be used in cancer therapy, and the authors suggest further study is warranted. 

“Our studies point towards a possible way to counteract tumor growth and recurrence by interfering with cell cycle progression, apoptosis induction, and migration,” says Annamaria Cimini of the University of L'Aquila, lead author of the study. 

"The design of new protocols with regional anesthetics may provide new perspectives for breast and melanoma therapies reducing cancer recurrence after surgery by counteracting their metastatic potential and resistance,” says Antonio Giordano, MD, PhD, founder and director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine.

About the Sbarro Health Research Organization

The Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) is non-profit charity committed to funding excellence in basic genetic research to cure and diagnose cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other chronic illnesses and to foster the training of young doctors in a spirit of professionalism and humanism. To learn more about the SHRO please visit