Curbing Cost

Study Suggests That Dopamine is a Safe Antiangiogenic Drug

Basu SujitAngiogenesis inhibitors—drugs that block the formation of blood vessels in tumors—are used in the treatment of many forms of cancer. But currently used drugs are expensive and can cause serious side effects, precluding their use in some patients.

A new study led by scientists at the OSUCCC – James suggests that the inexpensive drug dopamine, used to treat heart, vascular and kidney disorders, can be safely used in cancer treatment to curb the growth of tumor blood vessels.

In the study, dopamine prevented the growth of blood vessels in two animal models without causing many of the serious side effects of the far-more expensive antiangiogenic drugs in current use.

The agent also prevented the neutropenia (drop in the number of neutrophils) that is often caused by the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil when used to treat colon, stomach, pancreas and breast cancers.

“This study demonstrates for the first time that the inexpensive drug dopamine lacks the serious side toxicities commonly seen with the antiangiogenesis drugs presently used in the clinic,” says principal investigator Sujit Basu, MD, PhD, professor of Pathology and of Medical Oncology at Ohio State. “Furthermore, dopamine can prevent the low-neutrophil count that is often induced by a very common anticancer drug used for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers,” says Basu, who is in the OSUCCC – James Translational Therapeutics Program.

Basu notes that dopamine is being used in clinics to treat other disorders, so these findings can be rapidly transferred to the clinic for the treatment of cancer patients.

Earlier studies by Basu and others have shown that dopamine blocks the growth of new tumor blood vessels by inhibiting the action of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), a hormone-like substance that plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of solid tumors.

“Most antiangiogenic drugs now in use have anti-VEGF-A actions,” Basu says. “Our study will help to rapidly translate the use of this inexpensive but effective antiangiogenic drug, dopamine, for the treatment of cancer in the clinics.”

Published in the International Journal of Cancer.

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