The anti-fungal compound itraconazole was developed in the 1980s, and suppresses fungal growth by inhibiting membrane function in fungal cells (1). But a 2007 study showed that the drug also has potent anti-cancer properties (2). Further studies of itraconazole on its own, and combined with other medicines, showed that it was an effective treatment for cancers of the prostate, skin, lungs, and other areas of the body. Clinical trials at Johns Hopkins and Stanford University have yielded positive results (3), and although the specific mechanisms by which it works are unknown, this common antifungal has made its way into the toolbox of oncologists across the country.
2. Chong C.R., Xu J., Lu J., Bhat S., Sullivan D.J., and Liu J.O. (2007). Inhibition of angiogenesis by the anti fungal drug itraconazole. ACS Chemical Biology 2: 263-70. [Link here]
3. Rudin C.M., Brahmer J.R., Juergens R.A., Hann C.L., Ettinger D.S., and Sebree R. (2013). Phase 2 study of pemetrexed and itraconazole as second-line therapy for metastatic nonsquamous non-small-cell lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic Oncology 8:619-23. [Link here]