Blood pressure drug may help fight against cancer

A frequently prescribed blood pressure drug could aid in the fight against cancer, BBC News reported.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital believe that the angiotensin inhibitor losartan could be used in combination with existing cancer drugs, to open up the collapsed blood vessels in solid tumors.  The scientists hope to give losartan to patients with pancreatic cancer in an attempt to improve life expectancy for this deadly disease.

Used for more than a decade, losartan works by dilating blood vessels so they can carry more blood.  This helps to ease pressure against the blood vessel walls.

To test their theory, the researchers gave losartan, in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, to mice with breast and pancreatic cancer.  They found that the blood pressure drug improved blood flow surrounding the tumor, allowing the chemotherapy drugs to be more easily delivered to the target.  Overall, the mice given this treatment survived much longer than mice given chemotherapy alone.

The researchers, who published their work in the journal Nature Communications, are currently recruiting volunteer patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer to test this new drug combination, according to BBC News.

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