Killing Cancer Cells and Protecting Hearts
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Approximately 12 million people had cancer in the United States in 2008 and that number has not stopped increasing. Scientists are now combining cancer medication with a drug for erectile dysfunction and another one for heart transplants, that helped kill cancer cells and still protected the heart from damage
For decades, doxorubicin has been a powerful anti-cancer treatment for various human cancers, including breast, ovarian, colon and prostate. But its use has been limited due to harmful, possibly irreversible effects on the heart.
In this study, using cell and animal models, researchers found that sildenafil alone or in combination with rapamycin (an immunosuppressant used to prevent post-transplant organ rejection) significantly improved the anti-cancer effects of doxorubicin while protecting the heart. The combination of all three medications showed the most powerful effect, researchers said.
"Because sildenafil and rapamycin are clinically approved drugs that both protect heart muscle, we thought that combining these drugs with doxorubicin would be a unique strategy to eliminate the cardiac side effects of doxorubicin while further improving its cancer-killing ability," Rakesh Kukreja, Ph.D, professor of internal medicine and cardiology was quoted saying.
"The drug combination led to a dramatic protection of heart muscle from apoptosis (cellular self-destruction) and, to a lesser extent, necrosis (cell death from disease)," David E. Durrant, study lead author was quoted saying.
"We think this combination therapy may have excellent potential to move forward into clinical trials and eventually improve life expectancy of cancer patients. More research is needed to understand how sildenafil and rapamycin work together to improve doxorubicin treatment,” Durrant continued.
Source: The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012, November 2012