Heart Drug Could Possibly Help Pancreatic Cancer: Study

Pancreatic cancer is the most aggressive cancer but a heart drug could possibly halt its deadly spread, a preliminary animal study shows.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., with the highest mortality rate of all major cancers – only eight percent of patients survive more than five years.

Pancreatic Cancer

Previous research shows controlling cholesterol metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells reduces it spread, resulting in potential new way to treat the deadly ailment with drug that were previously developed for heart disease.

Accumulations of cholesteryl ester, a cholesterol compound, in human pancreatic cancer specimens and cell lines demonstrate there is a link between cholesterol esterification and the cancer.

The researchers analyzed tissue samples from pancreatic cancer patients and then tested avasimibe, a cholesterol-lowering medication, in a mouse model of the disease. By doing so they were able to show for the first time that controlling cholesterol metabolism reduced the spread of the disease.

The drug reduced the size and tumor growth rate, and that the mice in the treated group were less likely to have pancreatic cancer spread to the liver, which is the reason why the cancer is so deadly, they also found.

Pancreatic cancer generally kills within a few months but if these results hold true in human trials, the lives of pancreatic patients could be extended a year, the researcher say of their study, which appears in Oncogene.

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