Increased oxygen supply improves cancer cells’ recovery

In new study scientists has found that slight increase in oxygen supply help to strengthen the blood vessels in cancer cells. It makes the chemotherapy more effective. When oxygen is injected into cancerous tumors, it boosts the chances of recovery. Oxygen supply is constricted in cells which are damaged & weak. These cells are less sensitive to radiotherapy treatment.

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It could be an exciting development which would allow drugs to soften up tumors before they are targeted with strong treatments. They had previously tried to starve tumors of oxygen, believing a more stable blood supply would only help the cancer spread. Scientists tested the effects of four drugs which are in clinical use or under development for cancer therapy.

Professor Gillies McKenna said, “'We are very excited to have uncovered this brand new approach to cancer treatment where the drugs prime the cancer cells for radiotherapy. You might expect that by increasing an oxygen supply to tumor cells you would help them grow. But actually by oxygenating the cell with a better blood supply we enable radiotherapy & chemotherapy to do a better job of killing them.”

The drugs were given to the mice at doses which did not alter tumor growth but the effects of the drugs acted to increase the blood supply to the tumors. An early trial in human patients with pancreatic cancer, which is notoriously difficult to treat, has also been positive.

Now with the new understanding, strategies could be developed to use these drugs to soften up tumor cells before treating them with radiotherapy. Boosting the effects of radiotherapy & chemotherapy are very exciting developments that hold real potential for use in patients.


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