(January 23, 2019) Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital recently found a correlation between a class of drug used to treat hypertension and longer survival rates in ovarian cancer patients when used with paclitaxel, a drug used to treat ovarian cancer. The antihypertension drug used in a phase II clinical trial, losartan, aids the body in multiple ways. First, when a tumor grows, it can restrict blood flow to the tumor, limiting the amount of the drug that the tumor receives. Drugs that aim to treat the angiotensin signaling pathway, such as losartan, help to alleviate that physical stress on the tumor environment and increase the blood, oxygen, and drug that reach the tumor. Second, when losartan was used with paclitaxel, it increased the efficacy of intraperitoneal paclitaxel and decreased the amount of ascites in patients. Lastly, because of losartan’s antifibrotic effect, it encouraged the production of other antifibrotic miRNA molecules, which could potentially be used as biomarkers in the future.
When patients receiving standard treatment were compared with those given the standard treatment in addition to a type of angiotensin-targeting drug, those given a drug like losartan lived an average of 30 months longer than those not taking them. Researchers have seen similar effects in pancreatic and breast cancer patients. “Our findings – on top of the beneficial results of the recent phase II trial for pancreatic cancer – should provide information and tools to explore a new therapeutic target for ovarian cancer…” says Rakesh Jain, PhD, a co-senior author of the report.