Disulfiram and Glioblastoma

Several laboratories have now published studies reporting the finding that disulfiram can kill glioblastoma cells in culture. For more than 60 years, disulfiram has been used as part of therapy to wean people off alcohol.  It makes the body acutely sensitive to alcohol, producing an unpleasant reaction. Unlike most drugs, disulfiram is able to penetrate the ‘blood-brain barrier’ – a physical and molecular wall that keeps toxic substances out of the brain. Laboratory tests have shown that the drug is effective at killing cultured glioblastoma cells. This is especially true when disulfiram is combined with gemcitabine, one of the few chemotherapy drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Because disulfiram is already a licensed drug with a known safety record, it could have a fast passage to clinical trials as a brain cancer treatment. More study is needed to determine dosing and the role of copper prior to initiating human trials. To learn more: