Commonly-used blood pressure drug losartan could aid chemotherapy by opening up collapsed blood vessels in solid tumours.
Scientists have improved the delivery of chemotherapy drugs and oxygen throughout tumours by increasing blood flow in mouse models of breast and pancreatic cancer.
"Increasing tumour blood flow in the absence of anti-cancer drugs might actually accelerate tumour growth, but we believe that combining increased blood flow with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or immunotherapy will have beneficial results," explains Jain, the Cook Professor of Radiation Oncology (Tumour Biology) at Harvard Medical School.
"Based on these findings in animal models, our colleagues at the MGH Cancer Center have initiated a clinical trial to test whether losartan can improve treatment outcomes in pancreatic cancer."
"Angiotensin inhibitor are safe blood pressure medications that have been used for over a decade in patients and could be repurposed for cancer treatment," explains Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the Steele Laboratory for Tumour Biology at MGH and senior author of the study.
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"Unlike anti-angiogenesis drugs, which improve tumour blood flow by repairing the abnormal structure of tumour blood vessels, angiotensin inhibitors open up those vessels by releasing physical forces that are applied to tumour blood vessels when the gel-like matrix surrounding them expands with tumour growth."
The study featured in the online journal Nature Communications. Information on this trial is available here.