The potential to treat lung cancer via inhalation of repurposed drugs

Wing Hin Lee*, Ching Yee Loo, Maliheh Ghadiri, Chean-Ring Leong, Paul M. Young, Daniela Traini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Lung cancer is a highly invasive and prevalent disease with ineffective first-line treatment and remains the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. Despite the improvements in diagnosis and therapy, the prognosis and outcome of lung cancer patients is still poor. This could be associated with the lack of effective first-line oncology drugs, formation of resistant tumors and non-optimal administration route. Therefore, the repurposing of existing drugs currently used for different indications and the introduction of a different method of drug administration could be investigated as an alternative to improve lung cancer therapy. This review describes the rationale and development of repositioning of drugs for lung cancer treatment with emphasis on inhalation. The review includes the current progress of repurposing non-cancer drugs, as well as current chemotherapeutics for lung malignancies via inhalation. Several potential non-cancer drugs such as statins, itraconazole and clarithromycin, that have demonstrated preclinical anti-cancer activity, are also presented. Furthermore, the potential challenges and limitations that might hamper the clinical translation of repurposed oncology drugs are described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-130
Number of pages24
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug repositioning
  • Drug repurposing
  • Inhalation
  • Lung cancer


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