Drugs increasingly used to treat cancer could have a major impact on a wide range of infectious diseases, says a new study by researchers at the University of York.
Anti-angiogenic drugs are used to try and prevent cancers from stimulating the growth of the blood vessels they need to survive and grow.
The new research has suggested that the same drugs could help in the treatment of other diseases including visceral leishmaniasis.
The findings showed that anti-angiogenic drugs can improve the structure of tissues where immune responses are generated and which are often destroyed by chronic infection or inflammation.
The resulting improvement in the immune response can increase the effectiveness of conventional treatments for leishmaniasis, allowing doctors to use lower doses of existing drugs that otherwise have harmful side effects.
"While our research has focused on leishmaniasis the findings could have implications for a range of globally important diseases," Professor Paul Kaye, Director of the Centre for Immunology and Infection, said.
"It is particularly exciting that this potential has been discovered in a class of drugs that are already well-established in clinical practice.
"Our research also identifies ways that anti-angiogenic drugs might be used more effectively in the treatment of cancers," he added.
The study has been published online by the Journal of Clinical Investigation