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

August 14, 2012

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.

Explore further: New strategy to accelerate blood vessel maturation has therapeutic potentials for ischemic diseases

Related Stories

New strategy to accelerate blood vessel maturation has therapeutic potentials for ischemic diseases

October 11, 2011
Belgian researchers describe a new mechanism to enhance the restoration of the blood flow in ischemic diseases, which are among the leading causes of death worldwide. The team of Massimiliano Mazzone demonstrates that blocking ...

Recommended for you

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

Newest data links inflammation to chemo-brain

December 14, 2017
Inflammation in the blood plays a key role in "chemo-brain," according to a published pilot study that provides evidence for what scientists have long believed.

One in five young colon cancer patients have genetic link

December 13, 2017
As doctors grapple with increasing rates of colorectal cancers in young people, new research from the University of Michigan may offer some insight into how the disease developed and how to prevent further cancers. Researchers ...

New strategy for unleashing cancer-fighting power of p53 gene

December 13, 2017
Tumor protein p53 is one of the most critical determinants of the fate of cancer cells, as it can determine whether a cell lives or dies in response to stress. In a new study published today in the journal Nature Communications, ...

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Cancer-causing mutation suppresses immune system around tumours

December 12, 2017
Mutations in 'Ras' genes, which drive 25% of human cancers by causing tumour cells to grow, multiply and spread, can also protect cancer cells from the immune system, finds a new study from the Francis Crick Institute and ...

0 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.