Chloroquine is a drug classically used as prevention and/or treatment of malaria, but it also has other uses in the treatment of some rheumatological diseases and amebiasis. For some time, researchers have been taking a closer look at chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (a drug similar to chloroquine) with some promising results.
This drug is capable of inhibiting the autophagy, which is a major cellular pathway for recycling and repurposing old proteins, old structures inside the cell, amongst others. Cancer cells can use autophagy to produce energy when under metabolic distress, but autophagy is also important due to its cancer-suppressing capabilities. It has also been recently showed that autophagy can trigger a stronger anti-inflammatory response when cancer cells die.
Chloroquine’s capability of disrupting the cellular autophagy makes it a candidate for treating a number of different cancer types, like pancreatic, breast, and colorectal cancers due to the fact that this metabolic process is present in most types of cancer cells. Outside of the alternative oncology, it is also a classical drug against many rheumatological diseases.
The use of chloroquine has its pros and cons and, therefore, is used only in specific cases. It is an oral drug, but due to its mechanism of action, it can enhance the side effects of some drugs (mainly kidney-related side effects – especially when given with Platines, which is a group of chemotherapy drugs). It must also be a part of a more comprehensive treatment, not being able as a stand-alone drug to have enough anti-neoplastic effect.