“It seems that the drug’s effect is not only on the migration of tumor cells, but also on neoangiogenesis, that is, on the formation of new blood vessels needed to feed the tumor. We are carrying out experiments to prove this. 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”, points out the study coordinator.
At first, the drug had no adverse reaction, an important factor in the treatment of cancer, since current therapies usually express invasive methods and with strong and harmful side effects to the body. This is the case with chemotherapy, for example.
“This drug does not have the same harmful impact that others would have. The idea, then, would be to associate cancer treatment with this drug so that it can reduce the need for excessive chemotherapy. This reduction can be very beneficial for patients, both from the point of view of the treatment itself and with regard to the quality of life of cancer patients”, points out Otávio Mendes.
In addition, the researcher points out that, given the already use of the drug to treat cases of pulmonary hypertension, the drug is already tested and proven to be non-harmful. One more positive and hopeful point for cancer patients.
The survey was a good surprise for the researchers too. “We were studying about antibodies and we were using the drug to block the antibodies, and we saw that the drug’s effect was to block the spread of these cells. It was an accident, actually. Then we thought: ‘If you’re doing this, would it be that if we used it on the tumor, wouldn’t it be important to reduce the metastasis?’.”
“So I started and looked at various tumor cell lines and experimented. It wasn’t premeditated, it was accidental. From time to time this happens, it’s an interesting phenomenon”, says Otávio Mendes.
The research used a technique to measure cell migration and then test the drug. Then, early stage mice of an aggressive breast cancer strain were treated for two weeks before they had the tumor implanted and two weeks later. In this experiment, the reduction in metastasis was 43%, increasing the survival of the animals.
“Since the metastasis of 4T1 cells occurs very quickly in mice, we started the treatment beforehand, so that we could get closer to what would happen in humans”, explains the researcher.