Exploiting cancers' own architecture may lead to their destruction

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Washington, March 11 (ANI): Scientists have now discovered a novel way of enhancing drug delivery to tumours: using cancer's own architecture to bring about its downfall.

Solid tumours need a good blood supply in order to grow, and the blood vessels nourishing the tumours are frequently disorganized and leaky, allowing drugs to leach into the tumour.

However, this useful property is counteracted by high tissue pressure within the tumour itself, which creates a barrier for drug uptake.

Professor Lisa Coussens and her co-workers, based at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, have found a way of tipping the balance in favour of the blood vessels.

Using a mouse model of cancer, they show that blocking the action of a signalling molecule called ALK5 makes tumour blood vessels even leakier for a short period of time, and this window of leakiness can be used to "open up" the tumour for more efficient delivery of drugs.

The new discovery has exciting implications. Blocking the ALK5 pathway may not only make chemotherapy far more effective in multiple cancers, but could also aid in efficient delivery of the many other therapies that rely on the bloodstream to carry them into a tumour.

Further, ALK5 blockade could assist in diagnosis as well as treatment; the imaging molecules used to light up tumours so that they can be seen by scanners might also be able to get in more easily if ALK5 were inactivated at the time of scanning.

Together, these benefits may lead to more accurate diagnosis and a far more hopeful prognosis for sufferers of previously intractable solid cancers. (ANI)

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