29 February 2008

Are cardiac hormones a new class of anti–cancer drugs?

For more than 350 years, scientists and doctors have considered the heart exclusively a pump. However, this idea changed dramatically when, in 1981, Adolfo Debold established that the heart synthesizes atrial natriuretic factor, a hormone that got its name due to the fact that it is synthesized by atrial cells and stimulates the production of urine and the excretion of sodium ions from the body.

Scientists at the James Haley Veterans Hospital and the University of South Florida, working under the guidance of Professor David Vesely, have identified three more heart-synthesized hormones whose amino acid sequences are encoded by the same gene as the atrial natriuretic factor, and which are also involved in the regulation of circulating blood volume and blood pressure:
– a natriuretic peptide of prolonged action, also stimulating the production of urine and the excretion of sodium ions;
– vasodilator that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure;
– a kaliuretic peptide that enhances the excretion of potassium ions.

Vesely began his work by studying the possibility of using cardiac hormones for the diagnosis and treatment of congestive heart failure. However, in 2002, after the death of his wife from breast cancer and the appearance of data on the effects of hormones on the growth of tumor cells, he decided to shift his priorities towards oncology.

The introduction of cardiac hormones into cultures of various types of malignant cells, including colon, ovarian, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer cells, destroyed up to 97% of tumor cells within 24 hours.

When conducting experiments on mice, the administration of these hormones led to the elimination of 80% of human pancreatic cancer tumors and 66% of human breast cancer tumors that developed from tumor cells previously injected into animals. Most of all, the researchers were inspired by the result of experiments on a model of pancreatic cancer, because it is one of the most rapidly progressing oncological diseases with a poor therapeutic prognosis.

The size of pancreatic tumors preserved in mice as a result of treatment was reduced to less than 10% of the original size. The most effective was the introduction of a vasodilator, which reduces the size of tumors to 2% of their maximum size. All the mice in the experimental group died of old age, while none of them had any side effects.

None of the animals were subjected to any other methods of treatment (surgical interventions, chemo- and radiotherapy). After the natural death of mice upon reaching normal life expectancy, the authors found that the tumors preserved as a result of treatment did not form metastases. The authors believe that if cardiac hormones have a similar therapeutic effect on people, over time, cancer can be, if not completely cured, then turned into a chronic disease that does not affect the quality of life of patients.

Currently, a private biotech company is seeking funds for clinical trials, and the James Haley Hospital and the University of South Florida have patented the results.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of ScienceDaily


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