Scientists uncover strategy able to dramatically reduce chemotherapy's side effects

Researchers in Leuven (VIB/KU Leuven) have confirmed their hypothesis that normalizing blood vessels by blocking oxygen sensor PHD2 would make chemotherapy more effective. They also demonstrated for the first time that this strategy would reduce the harmful side effects of chemotherapy on healthy organs.

The effectiveness of is first and foremost limited by the difficulties of delivering the anticancer drugs to the actual tumor. Tumors are characterized by abnormally shaped blood vessels – they are irregular in shape, have weak textures and easily tear. These leaking blood vessels prevent anticancer drugs from reaching tumor cells while promoting metastasis. Secondly, chemotherapy can have seriously harmful effects on healthy organs, leading even to heart and kidney failure.

Earlier research at Max Mazzone's lab had already shown that reduced activity of the PHD2 under hypoxic conditions resulted in a more streamlined vasculature. In this new study, and using mouse models, Rodrigo Leite de Oliveira, Sofie Deschoemaker and Max Mazzone prove their earlier hypothesis that streamlining blood flow by inhibiting PHD2 can render cancer treatments more effective. Firstly, the better formed ensure that the are distributed throughout the tumor, thus increasing their impact. They also allow for smaller doses – a significant advantage when administering toxic drugs. The researchers further proved that inhibiting PHD2 results in the production of anti-oxidant enzymes able to neutralize the harmful side effects of chemotherapy.

The study is promising: chemotherapy combined with specific PHD2 inhibitors would make chemotherapy more effective while reducing the harmful side effects that place such a heavy burden on patients. Unfortunately, there are no specific inhibitors available right now, so we have a long way to go before patients will be able to benefit from this discovery.

Related Stories

'Normalizing' tumor vessels leaves cancer more benign

date Feb 12, 2009

A report publishing online on February 12th in the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, suggests a counterintuitive new method to make cancer less likely to spread: by normalizing the shape of tumors' blood vessels to ...

Recommended for you

Spicy treatment the answer to aggressive cancer?

date Jul 03, 2015

It has been treasured by food lovers for thousands of years for its rich golden colour, peppery flavour and mustardy aroma…and now turmeric may also have a role in fighting cancer.

Cancer survivors who smoke perceive less risk from tobacco

date Jul 02, 2015

Cancer survivors who smoke report fewer negative opinions about smoking, have more barriers to quitting, and are around other smokers more often than survivors who had quit before or after their diagnosis, according to a ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.