In a new study, researchers found that a drug used to treat pulmonary hypertension strongly reduced the capacity of tumor cells to migrate and invade other tissues in pancreatic, ovarian, breast cancer, and leukemia cell lines.
Furthermore, the drug could reduce the metastasis in the liver and lungs in an aggressive form of breast cancer and lengthen survival.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Freiburg in Germany and elsewhere.
Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects arteries in the lungs and in the heart.
The drug ambrisentan is an inhibitor of the endothelin type A receptor.
In the study, the team found the drug prevented the migration of tumor cells to other tissues.
Endothelin type A receptor is expressed in endothelium, the layer of cells that line the inner surface of blood vessels, and in the cells of the immune system.
Other research has also shown its involvement in tumor growth and metastasis.
The team found that the effects of the drug appear not to be confined to preventing tumor cell migration, but also to include inhibition of the formation of new blood vessels required to sustain tumor growth.
They are 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 researchers warn that the drug’s benefits in cancer treatment still need more evidence. Its use without a physician’s guidance can be harmful to health, especially in pregnancy.
One author of the study is Otávio Cabral Marques.
The study is published in Scientific Reports.
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