Losartan could help fight pancreatic cancer
Losartan, a commonly used blood pressure drug, could help fight pancreatic cancer by opening up blood vessels in solid tumors.
Used beside conventional cancer-fighting drugs, losartan could improve life expectancy, experts believe.
Following successful testing in mice, doctors plan to give losartan to patients with pancreatic cancer to see if it can tackle this hard-to-treat disease, Nature Communications reports.
Currently, only 5% of pancreatic cancer patients survive for at least 5 years.
This is partly because only one in 10 people with the disease has a tumor that is operable.
Investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US are currently recruiting volunteer patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer to test out the new drug combination of chemotherapy plus losartan.
Although the treatment will not cure them, the researchers hope it will give the patients more months or years of life than they might otherwise get.
Losartan has been used for more than a decade as a safe blood pressure medication.
It works by making the blood vessels relax or dilate so that they can carry more blood, easing pressure.
The Massachusetts team found that losartan was beneficial in mice with breast and pancreatic cancer.
Losartan improved blood flow in and around the tumors allowing more of the chemotherapy drugs to be delivered to their target.
Mice given this treatment, rather than standard chemotherapy alone, survived for longer.