NOV 21, 2017 11:09 AM PST

Cancer Drugs with a Dual Purpose: Lowering Blood Pressure

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A common ingredient in cancer drugs could also be used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. From Georgetown University Medical Center, researchers look deeper into fibroblast growth factor (FGF), its inhibitors, and how it influences both cancer growth and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Each patient is different, and while there are many drugs on the market designed to treat hypertension, a new class of drugs that works through a different mechanism could help patients who do not respond well to other drugs. Researchers think that FGF inhibitors may be the key to developing a new class of hypertension drugs.

Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) inhibitors work in cancer drugs by blocking angiogenesis, the creation of new blood vessels. Tumor cells use FGF to promote angiogenesis, and without it, cancer’s supply to blood is cut off. In this way, both FGF and FGF inhibitors influence blood pressure, and a protein called FGFBP1 (FGF Binding Protein 1) influences FGF.

"It's rare that a single class of drugs can be used for such different conditions, but that is what our study strongly suggests," explained senior investigator, Anton Wellstein, MD, PhD.

Inspired by a study that showed how a variation of the FGFBP1 gene could lead to overexpression of FGFBP1, increasing a person’s predisposition to developing hypertension, Wellstein and other researchers dived deeper into the link between FGFBP1 and hypertension in a mouse model. The model allowed them to turn FGFBP1 expression on or off. Blood pressure went from normal to unhealthy when researchers turned FGFBP1 expression on.

Researchers also found that FGF responds to a hormone called angiotensin II, which increases blood pressure by constricting blood vessels.

"FGF can control how sensitive the blood pressure regulation by angiotensin II is," Wellstein explained. "That tells us that if a person has hypertension, it is possible to target FGF signaling because it contributes to maintenance of high blood pressure by altering sensitivity to a major vasoconstrictive hormone, angiotensin II.”

With more research, FGF inhibitors could soon represent a new class of anti-hypertension drugs for people who do not respond well to existing drugs.

The present study was published in the journal Hypertension.

Source: Georgetown University Medical Center

About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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