this treatment to promote erection

THE ESSENTIAL

  • According to the authors, about 80% of people with esophageal cancer do not respond to chemotherapy.
  • The treatment, which has already been approved worldwide, has few side effects even at high doses.
  • In 2018, more than 5,400 new cases of esophageal cancer were detected in France.

The prognosis for esophageal cancer is grim.”, recalls the French National Society of Gastroenterology. A new study appeared in the journal cell reports medicine, could improve the chances of survival for those affected. Scientists at the British Cancer Research Center have found that an erectile dysfunction drug can increase the effects of chemotherapy for esophageal cancer.

Resistance to chemotherapy

The treatment, known as a PDE5 inhibitor, can block chemotherapy resistance by targeting cells called cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) found in the area surrounding the tumor. These help the tumor grow by feeding and covering it, which blocks the effects of treatments such as chemotherapy. Cancer Research UK researchers found for the first time that levels of PDE5, an enzyme found in the wall of blood vessels, are higher in esophageal adenocarcinoma than in healthy tissue. High levels of PDE5 were then found in CAFs, and high expression of this enzyme is associated with lower overall survival.

inhibit enzyme

Following this initial discovery, researchers tested a PDE5 inhibitor, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction. “Developing new cancer drugs is hugely important, but doing it from scratch is a difficult process, and many fail at it.recalls Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK. We were keen to see if existing drugs approved for other diseases could be effective in treating cancer.”

To test its effect on esophageal cancer, scientists took samples of tumor cells from 15 biopsies from eight patients to create artificial tumors that were grown in the lab. The scientists tested a combination of PDE5 and standard chemotherapy on them. Of the 12 patient samples whose tumors initially failed to respond to chemotherapy, nine responded to standard chemotherapy using this method.

Future work

For the authors, these results are evidence that “PDE5 inhibitors plus chemotherapy may shrink some esophageal tumors more than chemotherapy alone, thereby addressing chemotherapy resistance, which is one of the greatest challenges in the treatment of esophageal cancer.”. The next step in their work will be a phase I and II clinical trial to test a PDE5 inhibitor in combination with chemotherapy in patients with advanced esophageal cancer.

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