According to The Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project, nitroglycerin may be useful at boosting the efficiency of conventional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. The ReDO project aims to identify commonly-used pharmaceuticals that were developed to treat other illnesses aside from cancer, which may have anti-oncogenic properties. Two international collaborators – the Anticancer Fund in Belgium, and GlobalCures in the US – are the founders of the ReDO project.
Nitroglycerin has been used for more than 100 years to safely and effectively treat chest pain, also known as angina. It is an inexpensive medicine that according to a study published in online journal ecancermedicalscience, could be repurposed as an anti-cancer agent.
Tumor hypoxia – the absence of oxygen inside the tumor – is often blamed for the ineffectiveness of current cancer treatments, according to Vidula Sukhatme, the founder of GlobalCures. The lack of oxygen inside the cancerous mass makes it difficult for treatments to penetrate deep enough to be effective.
“Any intervention that improves tumor oxygenation could improve radiation and chemotherapy outcomes,” says Sukhatme. “Nitroglycerin is one such agent. It’s immediately available, inexpensive and relatively non-toxic. It would be a shame to ignore its potential for patient benefit just because it is an old drug and has multiple mechanisms of action.”
Dr. Pan Pantziarka, one of the authors of the publication and a member of the ReDO project and the Anticancer Fund comments, “In addition to tackling tumor hypoxia, nitroglycerin has excellent potential for improving the delivery of anticancer drugs.”
“One of the nicest things about nitroglycerin is the method of delivery – transdermal patches, which mean that patients may be able to get additional benefit from their existing treatments without having to take more tablets or intravenous medicines,” Pantziarka adds.
Nitroglycerine was originally developed as a component in explosives, and was used by Alfred Nobel to manufacture dynamite. The researchers say that support and interest in the use of nitroglycerine in cancer treatment is needed, in order for it to begin to be utilized to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.
- Sources: Repurposing nitroglycerin for anti-cancer treatments – http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-08-repurposing-nitroglycerin-anti-cancer-treatments.html
- Sukhatme, V., Bouche, G., Meheus, L., Sukhatme, V., and Pantziarka, P. (2015). Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO)—nitroglycerin as an anti-cancer agent. ecancer. 9 (568).