In a study from Massachusetts General Hospital, scientists found a blood pressure drug may benefit people with deadly brain cancer.
People with glioblastoma—the deadliest type of primary brain tumor—may benefit from immunotherapy medications called immune checkpoint inhibitors that stimulate an immune response against cancer cells.
However, they may also experience brain swelling, or cerebral edema, during treatment.
Cerebral edema is currently controlled by steroids that are highly immunosuppressive and thus, counter the benefit of immunotherapy.
Thus, new drugs that control edema safely without causing immunosuppression are urgently needed.
In the study, the team found that the blood pressure drug losartan can prevent immunotherapy-induced edema.
The findings showed that taking losartan may allow patients to continue receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors without developing adverse effects in the brain.
The scientists demonstrated that immunotherapy-induced edema results from an inflammatory response that disrupts the blood-tumor barrier, a modification of the blood-brain barrier that occurs with brain cancer.
This response induces blood vessel leakage to cause edema.
The team that losartan can prevent immunotherapy-related edema by reducing the expression of these enzymes.
Losartan also had many other beneficial effects in the tumor environment that enhanced the body’s anti-tumor immune response.
Combined with an immune checkpoint inhibitor, the team found losartan improved survival in mouse models of glioblastoma, curing 20% of mice, which increased to 40% when combined with the standard of care.
The team notes that because losartan is safe, effective, and affordable, it can be readily prescribed along with immunotherapy to patients with glioblastoma.
If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements could strongly reduce cancer death.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and how alcohol, coffee and tea intake influence cognitive decline.
The study was conducted by Rakesh K. Jain et al and published in PNAS.
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