by Pooja Shete on  December 22, 2020 at 8:35 PM Drug News
Pulmonary Hypertension Drug Helps To Treat Cancer
In the trials involving ovarian, breast cancer, pancreatic, and leukemia cancer cell lines, a drug used to treat pulmonary hypertension can significantly reduce the capacity of tumor cells to migrate and invade other tissues. In mice having an aggressive form of breast cancer, the drug showed reduced incidence of metastasis in the lungs and liver by 47% and increase survival as compared with untreated animals.

The research conducted at the University of So Paulo's Biomedical Sciences Institute (ICB-USP) in Brazil is published in Scientific Reports

The drug called ambrisentan is used to treat pulmonary hypertension. It is an inhibitor of the endothelin type A receptor, which plays a role in increasing the blood pressure. Pulmonary hypertension is caused by autoimmune disorders like lupus and systemic sclerosis. According to the laboratory studies, the drug prevented migration of tumor cells to other tissues. The researchers are still investigating other effects.


Endothelium is the layer of cells present on the inner surface of the blood vessels and in the cells of the immune system. Endothelin type A receptors are present in the endothelium. Further research has also shown its involvement in tumor growth and metastasis.

Principal investigator of the study Marques said, "The effects of the drug appear not to be confined to preventing tumor cell migration, but also to include inhibition of neoangiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels required to sustain tumor growth. We're currently doing experiments to confirm this. If so, the drug must have a systemic effect, preventing tumor migration to other tissues and inhibiting tumor growth by blocking the generation of new vessels."

The efficacy of the drug in cancer treatment is yet to be proven. As the drug is harmful especially during pregnancy, it should be used only under physician guidance.

Laboratory Experiments

By using techniques to measure the cell migration it was found that the drug significantly reduced migration of tumor cells in ovarian, pancreatic, breast and leukemia cancer cell lines.

In further experiments, 4T1 cells taken from the gland tissue of a mouse strain were injected into mice to copy the initial stage of an aggressive form of breast cancer in humans. Two weeks before the injection and two weeks after the injection, the mice were treated with the drug. It was observed that the drug reduced metastasis by about 43 percent and improved survival by 30 percent.

Marques explained, "Metastasis of 4T1 cells is very fast in mice, so we began treatment earlier in order to approximate what happens in humans."

Along with other researchers, Marques is now preparing to perform clinical trials at ICB-USP where the drug will be given to a group of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to see if they recover better than the control group who will not be given the drug.

The drug is available as a oral formulation but researchers want to test the drug by applying it directly to the tumor in order to increase its effect. It has not been decided on which type of cancer it will be tested.

Source: Medindia

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