Losartan is a common drug that has been used for over a decade to treat blood pressure. It works by relaxing or dilating blood vessels in the body, enabling them to carry more blood and subsequently easing blood pressure.
But researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in the US believe the drug could aid cancer treatment and improve the life expectancy of cancer patients.
Following the successful trial in mice, the researchers found the blood pressure drug opened up blood vessels in tumours – a result that could aid conventional cancer-fighting methods and lengthen patients life expectancy.
The drug could prove to be particularly beneficial to those living with hard-to-treat or inoperable cancers and tumours, such as pancreatic cancer.
Currently, pancreatic cancer patients have a survival rate of 5 years or less, mostly because only one in ten patients will have a tumour that is potentially operable.
When given to mice, the Massachusetts research team found that Losartan improved blood flow in and around tumours, making it easier for chemotherapy drugs to be delivered to the target tumours.
The drug proved especially beneficial in mice with pancreatic and breast cancers. The subjects who were administered the blood pressure drug were found to live longer than their counterparts who were given chemotherapy treatment alone.
While the study’s authors, published in Nature Communications, cautioned that the drug would not cure those with inoperable cancer, they believe it could give patients a few more months or even years of life yet.
Researchers at the US hospital are now recruiting volunteer patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer to test the effectiveness of the drug alongside traditional cancer treatments.