A new hope against cancer

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This is how the drug “Ambrisentan”, used to treat cases of pulmonary hypertension, comes to be seen by the medical community. That’s because researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) concluded, in a study, that the drug can reduce the capacity of tumor cells to migrate and invade other tissues in tests carried out with tumor lines from the pancreas, ovary, breast and leukemia.

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According to data presented by the research, still in pre-clinical testing (in animals), the drug reduced the incidence of metastasis by 47% – formation of a new tumor lesion from another, but without continuity between the two – in the liver and in the lungs and also increased the survival of mice treated with the drug compared to those who did not receive doses of the drug.

“If confirmed, the drug would have a systemic effect, not only inhibiting tumor migration to other tissues, but also blocking the generation of new vessels that make it grow”
Otávio Cabral Marques, researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of São Paulo (ICB-USP) and study coordinator

The study, funded by FAPESP, was published in the journal “Scientific Reports”. “This drug is an inhibitor of the endothelin A receptor, which acts to constrict blood vessels. Therefore, it is used to treat pulmonary hypertension – normally caused by autoimmune diseases such as lupus and systemic sclerosis”, explains Otávio Cabral Marques, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of São Paulo (ICB-USP) and coordinator of the study.

According to him, despite some differences, the action is very similar with regard to cancer treatment.

“The cells it acted on were different, but the receptor it acts on is also expressed on cancer cells. This receptor, which controls and modulates the pressure of pulmonary material in these hypertensive patients, also modulates the movement of tumor cells. It acts on some pathways, which we call signaling pathways, they are molecules, communicators that work inside cells sending information to the cell to move and spread.

So it controls, modulates and reduces this activation”, he says.It is as if this receptor, then, put the cell in a state of alert and moving to a natural and non-cancerous state. But, it seems, the results presented by the study may go further.