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Small Peptide Blocks Human Lung Cancer Growth in Mice

Scientists have shown that a small peptide [angiotensin-(1-7)] can block the growth and shrink the size of human lung cancer xenografts in mice. The study is the first to show that a specific peptide reduces lung tumor growth by inhibiting blood vessel formation. Angiotensin-(1-7) works by inhibiting the production of signals sent out by a tumor for food. The signals prompt blood vessels to grow and invade the tumor to feed it. Over the course of the current study, the tumors treated with angiotensin-(1-7) shrank, while saline-treated tumors grew and, at the end of the study, the tumors treated with angiotensin-(1-7) weighed about 60 percent less than the tumors treated with saline. Analysis also showed that the tumors from mice treated with the peptide had significantly fewer blood vessels compared to the tumors from the saline-treated animals. The authors said the treatment likely has applications beyond lung cancer--they have collected data showing it is effective on breast, colon, and brain tumors, as well. The treatment also presents an attractive possibility for future human cancer therapy from a cost perspective, the authors said. "Because it's a peptide, it's very small and can be made very easily," Dr. Gallagher noted. "We sometimes like to say we're the aspirin of cancer therapy." The article was published in the June issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. [Press release] [MCT abstract]