• Beta-blockers could enhance chemotherapies for childhood cancer
    Beta-blockers could enhance chemotherapies for childhood cancer

News & Views

Beta-blockers could enhance chemotherapies for childhood cancer

May 22 2013

Beta-blockers could be used to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapies for treating neuroblastoma.

The disease is a type of children’s cancer and a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer found that three beta-blockers (carvedilol, nebivolol and propranolol were able to slow the growth of neuroblastoma cancer cells.

When combined with chemotherapy, the anti-cancer effects of the beta-blockers increased.

As well as this, when the chemotherapy drug vincristine was added to them, survival in mice was significantly improved.

Study lead author Dr Eddy Pasquier said: “Three of the seven different beta-blockers tested in the lab all slowed tumour growth.  When combined with these beta-blockers, vincristine was four times more effective than when used alone.”

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from nerve cells remaining from a baby’s development in the womb, with roughly 200 children diagnosed with the condition every year in Britain, many of whom are under the age of five.

Although the number of children surviving neuroblastoma has increased from 17 per cent in 1971 to 64 per cent today, the aggressive form of the disease is still difficult to treat.

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “We urgently need more effective treatments for children with neuroblastoma, and this research opens up a new avenue to explore.

“But this approach has only been tested in mice, and may not have the same effect in children, so more work needs to be done to show whether this might work in the clinic.”

Recently, figures from Cancer Research UK found that over 10,000 women under the age of 50 are impacted by breast cancer every year.

One in five breast cancer cases are in females under 50, with the number of females diagnosed now approaching 50,000 per year.

However, there are fewer women under 50 dying from the disease than ever before because of breakthroughs in clinical research.

Posted by Neil Clark

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