Repurposed Dipyridamole as a cancer treatment

Repurposed Dipyridamole as a cancer treatment

Dipyridamole (DIP), a safe and widely prescribed drug used to inhibit thrombus formation and cause short-term vasodilation, has been found in numerous studies to reduce cancer tumour size, metastasis, progression and inflammation whilst improving immune response and certain chemotherapy treatments.

Dipyridamole is a drug used in Ischemic disorders where the blood supply is limited to tissues. Like aspirin, it limits platelet adhesion, it has been used for many years and has few, if any, side-effects.

Dipyridamole and cancer

Dipyridamole is also known to can increase the concentration of the anticancer drugs 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), methotrexate, piperidine and vincristine in cancer cells and so increases the effectiveness of the treatment.

How it does this is unknown. In 2016, Chinese researchers from the University of Changchun attempted to find out(1) and discovered two proteins were targets, one a human checkpoint inhibitor, a target for some of the latest immunotherapy drugs.

Dipyridamole, platelets and melanoma

This was nothing new. In 1985, Doctors at St Helier and Kingston Hospitals treated stage III and Stage IV melanoma patients with 300 mg of Dipyridamole. Instead of 32% of the Stage IV patients surviving 5 years, their data showed 74%, with 100% of the Stage III patients surviving 5 years. (The results were reported in The Lancet, March 23rd 1985). Their research noted that the believed Dipyridamole stopped the cells from the primary tumour moving into and around the blood stream, thus reducing metastasis and death rates.

Which takes us back to platelets. Platelets help your blood clot when you cut yourself. But platelets also help cancer spread. Cancer cells recruit platelets to help them hide from the immune system, they use Platelet Derived Growth Factor to form new blood supplies and then help them move through the blood stream to distant tissues. Without platelets they can’t do these things.

Platelets (and fibrinogen) also block the action of Natural Killer Cells(5). Blocking their action helps improve immune response.

Many drugs are being developed to tackle this problem, a proble Dipyridamole can already solve, and without real side-effects. In fact, there is a 2017 review on the need to tackle platelets in the treatment of cancer(6). Platelets are also involved in immune and inflammatory response.

Dipyrimadole and colorectal cancer

As long ago as 1991, Sakaguchi and a team from Kyushu University Medical School in Fukuoka had showed that Dipyridamole could enhance the effectiveness of both Adriamycin and 5-FU in colorectal cancer following surgery(3).

Dipyrimadole and breast cancer

In 2013 researchers from the University of Naples and the National Cancer Institute in the USA showed that Dipyridamole or DIP was effective against breast cancer and particularly Triple Negative Breast Cancer TNBC(2). In animal experiments DIP was shown to significantly reduce primary tumour growth, metastasis and breast cancer progression after intraperitoneal use. Dr Daniella Spano concluded that while low dose DIP significantly reduced primary tumour growth and metastasis, high dose resulted in an almost total reduction in primary tumours.

A further study by Wang(4) showed dipyridamole could block primary tumours and reduce bone metastasis in breast cancer.

Dipyridamole dose for cancer

A dose of 300 mg per day is used to block heart attacks.

Repurposed drug combinations – Dipyridamole and cimetidine

Many reviews of repurposed drugs make the point that combinations of drugs are important in treating cancer. In several studies, the simultaneous use of anti-histamines such as Tagamet (cimetidine) alongside Dipyridamole was shown to be important. There are numerous studies on histamines in the fight against cancer (7, 8)

Go to: Can histamines like Cimetidine and Loratadine help fight cancer

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  1. Am J Transl Res. 2016; 8(12): 5187–5198.
  5. Platelets and fibrin(ogen) increase metastatic potential by impeding natural killercell-mediated elimination of tumor cells.
2019 Research
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