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Heart hormones may be effective cancer treatment

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This article dates back to April of this year, but in a television interview in Tampa earlier this week, Dr. Vesely included lung cancer among the types of cancer cells that his "heart hormones" are killing.

Source: http://www.research.va.gov/news/researc ... 042508.cfm

Heart hormones may be effective cancer treatment

VA R & D

April 25, 2008

In studies presented by a VA researcher at the Experimental Biology 2008 conference, held April 5–9 in San Diego, hormones produced by the heart eliminated human pancreatic cancer in more than three-quarters of the mice treated with the hormones and eliminated human breast cancer in two-thirds of the mice.

The work was conducted by David Vesely, MD, PhD, chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa and a professor of medicine, molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida.

Vesely has published the work in journals such as Anticancer Research and In Vivo. The hormone treatments have not yet been tried in humans, but a private biotechnology company is raising money with the goal of beginning human clinical trials.

In the past, scientists and physicians thought the heart was little more than a mechanical pump, delivering blood and oxygen to the body. But that view changed dramatically in 1981 with the discovery that the heart produces a protein called atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), so-named because it is made in the atrium of the heart and triggers the production of urine and the excretion of sodium.

Vesely later discovered three more hormones that are produced from the same gene as ANF: long acting natriuretic peptide, which also stimulates urine production and sodium excretion; vessel dilator, which opens the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure; and kaliuretic peptide, which increases potassium excretion.

Vesely began his research on cardiac hormones by looking at the role they can play in diagnosing and treating congestive heart failure. But following his wife’s death from breast cancer in 2002—and in response to increasing evidence that the hormones controlled cell growth—he decided to tests the effects of the hormones in cancer cell cultures.

Using colon, ovarian, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer cells, among others, Vesely found that the hormones kill up to 97 percent of all cancers in cell cultures within 24 hours. He then turned to trials with mice, injecting some with pancreatic cancer cells and others with breast cancer cells. Once the mice developed tumors, he treated them with the hormones.

At the end of one month, the treatment had eliminated cancer in 80 percent of the mice injected with human pancreatic cancer and in 66 percent of the mice injected with breast cancer.

The results with pancreatic cancer were particularly exciting because it is a fastgrowing cancer with a poor prognosis. The disease responds poorly to chemotherapy and radiation, and surgical removal of the pancreas is risky. As a result, patients rarely survive past five years. In Vesely’s study, the pancreatic cancers that were not cured were reduced to less than 10 percent of their original size.

"Significantly, even in the carcinomas that [the treatment] didn't cure, it decreased the volume of these cancers to less than 10 percent, and the animals didn't die of cancer—they died of old age," says Vesely. "Thus, this is a new concept in cancer treatment. Even if you don’t cure every cancer, some can be treated like a 'chronic disease' that one lives with but doesn’t die from."

Vesely also suggests that the hormones would be a nontoxic treatment, unlike conventional chemotherapy. "Since these peptides are made by your own body, they have almost no side effects. The body doesn't recognize them as foreign, and thus, it doesn’t develop antibodies which can affect a person’s immune system."

In Vesely's studies with mice, the hormones did not appear to cause any of the unwanted side effects associated with most cancer drugs now in use. He says, "In the lab, we gave these peptide hormones 24 hours a day for an entire month at the concentration which eliminates cancers growing in living tissue, without a single side effect."


Submitted by Carole

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