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Common Blood Pressure Drug Repurposed for Rare Cancer Treatment

Common Blood Pressure Drug Repurposed for Rare Cancer Treatment

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  • Common high blood pressure drug propranolol is repurposed for treating rare form of soft tissue cancer.
  • Propranolol drug receives Orphan drug designation from European Commission(EC).

Propranolol is a common drug used for the treatment of high blood pressure that is being repurposed for the treatment of a rare tissue cancer in Europe.

The European Commission (EC) has recently granted Orphan Drug designation for propranolol. Orphan drug designation is given to drugs that are being used for the treatment of rare diseases that affect a population of less than 200,000 people.


Common Blood Pressure Drug Repurposed for Rare Cancer Treatment

Soft tissue sarcoma is a type of cancer that affects about one- quarter of million people in Europe.

Brad Bryan, Ph.D., a biomedical scientist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), said, "People with soft tissue sarcomas have a very poor survival rate."

"Four out of 10 patients with the cancer will die and are in urgent need of new treatment options."

Propranolol to Treat Angiosarcoma
Bryan had already discovered the ability of propranolol to treat angiosarcoma, which is a very lethal form of soft tissue cancer. The drug was able to reduce the growth of tumors in cell lines and animal models. The research was published in PLOS One journal in 2013.

A patient treated with angiosarcoma who had only a few months left to live was treated with the drug and tumor levels were being brought down to undetectable levels without any side effects. These research findings were published in the 2015 JAMA Dermatology.

Several studies on propranolol drug reported similar results on patients who were treated for rare cancer.

Shripad Banavali, M.D., an oncologist at Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai, India and Eddy Pasquier, Ph.D., University of Aix-Marseille, treated a 69-year-old woman with metastatic angiosarcoma who made a full recovery after being treated with propranolol was published in ecancermedicalscience.

Due to the promising results, Dr. Banavali and Pasquier carried out further research, and successfully treated seven more patients with inoperable angiosarcoma that was described in EBioMedicine.

Pasquier, said, "What surprised us the most about this new treatment is the fact that we got 100 percent clinical response, which is defined as either tumor regression or stabilization of the disease."

"This is not a cure in the sense that most patients will eventually see their disease progress, but this level of response is still very impressive, especially in this patient population with a very bleak prognosis; we're talking patients whose prognosis was roughly one year, give or take a few months."

Anticancer Fund, which is a non-profit foundation that aims to expand treatment options for people who suffer from cancer has approved propranolol drug in Europe.

Pan Pantziarka, Ph.D., oncology researcher at the Anticancer Fund, said, "Our ultimate objective is to have propranolol, if proven effective, fully licensed as a new standard of care treatment for angiosarcoma."

The research study has highlighted the effect of treatment in patients for whom existing treatments are ineffective. The two elements were important in making the clinical potential of propranolol in the rare and hard-to-treat cancer.

Propranolol Drug
Propranolol drug belongs to a group of drugs called Beta-blockers. The drug mainly acts by relaxing the blood vessels and slows down the heart rate to control blood pressure.

Propranolol is a generic drug and is available at an affordable price of 4 dollars per month to treat cancer patients.

Bryan explains, "Treating soft tissue sarcoma can easily top $100,000 to $200,000."

"While propranolol will certainly not replace these treatments, our data show it improves the ability of the treatments to work -- all at the cost of a generic co-pay."

References :
  1. Eddy Pasquier, Nicolas André, Janine Street, Anuradha Chougule, Bharat Rekhi, Jaya Ghosh, Deepa S.J. Philip, Marie Meurer, Karen L. MacKenzie, Maria Kavallaris, Shripad D. Banavali. Effective Management of Advanced Angiosarcoma by the Synergistic Combination of Propranolol and Vinblastine-based Metronomic Chemotherapy: A Bench to Bedside Study. EBioMedicine, 2016; 6: 87 DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.02.026
  2. William Chow, Clarissa N. Amaya, Steven Rains, Michael Chow, Erin B. Dickerson, Brad A. Bryan. Growth Attenuation of Cutaneous Angiosarcoma With Propranolol-Mediated β-Blockade. JAMA Dermatology, 2015; 151 (11): 1226DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2554
  3. Jessica M. Stiles, Clarissa Amaya, Steven Rains, Dolores Diaz, Robert Pham, James Battiste, Jaime F. Modiano, Victor Kokta, Laura E. Boucheron, Dianne C. Mitchell, Brad A. Bryan. Targeting of Beta Adrenergic Receptors Results in Therapeutic Efficacy against Models of Hemangioendothelioma and Angiosarcoma. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e60021 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060021
  4. Propranolol (Cardiovascular) - (https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682607.html)

Source: Medindia

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