MedicineWorld.Org
Your gateway to the world of medicine
Home
News
Cancer News
About Us
Cancer
Health Professionals
Patients and public
Contact Us
Disclaimer

Medicineworld.org: Hope for cancer straight from the heart

Back to cancer blog Blogs list Cancer blog  


Subscribe To Cancer Blog RSS Feed  RSS content feed What is RSS feed?

Hope for cancer straight from the heart




Digitalis-based drugs like digoxin have been used for centuries to treat patients with irregular heart rhythms and heart failure and are still in use today. In the Dec. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine now report that this same class of drugs may hold new promise as a therapy for cancer. This finding emerged through a search for existing drugs that might slow or stop cancer progression.

"This is really exciting, to find that a drug already deemed safe by the FDA also can inhibit a protein crucial for cancer cell survival," says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine.



Hope for cancer straight from the heart

Semenza and his team have long studied the hypoxia-inducible factor, or HIF-1, protein, which controls genes that help cells survive under low-oxygen conditions. HIF-1 turns on genes that grow new blood vessels to help oxygen-starved cells survive. Regions of low oxygen are common within the environment of fast-growing solid tumors.

"Oxygen-deprived cancer cells increase their HIF-1 levels to survive in these unfavorable conditions," says Semenza. "So turning down or blocking HIF-1 appears to be key to slowing or stopping these cells from growing."

The scientists took advantage of the Johns Hopkins Drug Library, a collection of more than 3,000 drugs already FDA approved or currently being tested in phase II clinical trials, assembled by Hopkins pharmacology professor Jun O. Liu. In this study, the research team tested every drug in the library for its ability to turn down HIF-1in cancer cells. The top 20 candidates identified were able to reduce HIF-1 by more than 88 percent, and more than half of these 20 belong to a class of drugs already usually used for treating heart failure, and included digoxin.

The scientists focused on digoxin because of its already well-established clinical use. They treated prostate cancer cells grown at normal and low-oxygen levels with digoxin for three days and counted the number of cells each day. They observed that cells treated with digoxin significantly slowed their growth, with fewer total cells after three days and increased numbers of cells that had stopped growing when in comparison to untreated cells.

"A number of drugs may appear promising when used to treat cancer cells in a dish in the lab, but may have little or no effect on tumors in living animals," says Huafeng Zhang, Ph.D., a research associate in the Department of Oncology and the Institute for Cell Engineering at Hopkins.

To see if digoxin had the same effect on cancer cells in the physiological context of a whole animal, the team administered daily injections of digoxin to mice with tumors. In untreated mice, tumors were large enough to be felt within nine days, but in treated mice, tumors could first be felt only after as long as 15 to 28 days. The team then examined tumors from the mice and observed that HIF-1 levels were lower than tumors from untreated mice. The team then went on to show that it is digoxin specifically reducing HIF-1 that leads to the anti-tumor results they saw.

While Zhang thinks it is possible that drugs like digoxin could someday be used for treating cancer, she cautions that a great deal of work remains to be done to understand in detail how these drugs inhibit HIF-1 and slow or stop tumor growth. Also, since this class of drugs acts by both strengthening and slowing down the rhythm of the heart, she notes that patients can safely tolerate them in only a limited dosage rangea range that is lower than the concentrations of digoxin used in this study. "We're trying to kill a tumor," she says, "We don't want to stop a heart".


Posted by: Janet    Source




Did you know?
Digitalis-based drugs like digoxin have been used for centuries to treat patients with irregular heart rhythms and heart failure and are still in use today. In the Dec. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine now report that this same class of drugs may hold new promise as a therapy for cancer. This finding emerged through a search for existing drugs that might slow or stop cancer progression.

Medicineworld.org: Hope for cancer straight from the heart

Main Page| Cancer blog| Cancer blogs list| Lung cancer blog| Colon cancer blog| Prostate cancer blog| Breast cancer blog| Diabetes watch blog| Heart watch blog| Allergy blog| Bladder cancer blog| Cervical cancer blog| Colon cancer news blog| Diabetes news blog| Esophageal cancer blog| Gastric cancer blog| Health news blog| Heart news blog| Infectious disease blog| Kidney watch blog| Lung disease blog| Lung cancer news blog| Mesothelioma blog| Neurology blog| Breast cancer news blog| OBGYN blog| Ophthalmology blog| Ovarian cancer blog| Cancer news blog| Pancreas cancer blog| Pediatrics blog| Prostate cancer news blog| Psychology blog| Research blog| Rheumatology blog| Society news blog| Uterine cancer blog| Weight watch blog|

Copyright statement
The contents of this web page are protected. Legal action may follow for reproduction of materials without permission.