Clioquinol: To harm or heal.
Clioquinol, one of the first mass-produced drugs, was considered safe and efficacious for many years. It was used as an antifungal and an antiprotozoal drug until it was linked to an outbreak of subacute myelo-optic neuropathy (SMON), a debilitating disease almost exclusively confined to Japan. Today, new information regarding clioquinol targets and its mechanism of action, as well as genetic variation (SNPs) in efflux transporters in the Japanese population, provide a unique interpretation of the existing phenomena. Further understanding of clioquinol's role in the inhibition of cAMP efflux and promoting apoptosis might offer promise for the treatment of cancer and/or neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we highlight recent developments in the field and discuss possible connections, hypotheses and perspectives in clioquinol-related research.