Repurposing of drugs approved for cardiovascular diseases Opportunity or mirage?

Paolo Gelosa, Laura Castiglioni, Marina Camera, Luigi Sironi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Drug repurposing is a promising way in drug discovery to identify new therapeutic uses –different from the original medical indication– for existing drugs. It has many advantages over traditional approaches to de novo drug discovery, since it can significantly reduce healthcare costs and development timeline. In this review, we discuss the possible repurposing of drugs approved for cardiovascular diseases, such as β-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is), angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), statins, aspirin, cardiac glycosides and low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs). Indeed, numerous experimental and epidemiological studies have reported promising anti-cancer activities for these drugs. It is worth mentioning, however, that the results of these studies are often controversial and very few data were obtained by controlled prospective clinical trials. Therefore, no final conclusion has yet been reached in this area and no final recommendations can be made. Moreover, β-blockers, ARBs and statins showed promising results in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) where pathological conditions other than cancer were considered. The results obtained have led or may lead to new indications for these drugs. For each drug or class of drugs, the potential molecular mechanisms of action justifying repurposing, results obtained in vitro and in animal models and data from epidemiological and randomized studies are described.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113895
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Aspirin
  • Drug repurposing
  • RAS inhibitors
  • Statins
  • β-blockers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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