Heart Hormones Slow Growth of Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Four of them are twice as effective as standard treatment, study finds

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FRIDAY, June 20, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Hormones made by the heart dramatically inhibit the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells grown in a laboratory, says a University of South Florida Health Sciences Center study.

The study, the first of its kind, found that four hormones produced by the heart were at least twice as effective in reducing tumor cell growth as 5-fluorouracil -- a standard drug used for 45 years to treat pancreatic cancer.

"The results were surprising and striking. One of these peptide hormones, called vessel dilator, killed 65 percent of the pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells within 24 hours, compared to the population of untreated cancer cells," the study's principal investigator, Dr. David Vesely, says in a news release.

"Equally important, DNA synthesis seems to stay shut down -- the remaining cancer cells don't make new cells," Vesely says.

He and his colleagues found the heart hormones work by inhibiting DNA synthesis and the growth of cancer cells, not by promoting cancer cells to self-destruct.

The four peptide hormones produced by the heart help lower blood pressure and promote excretion of excess salt and water.

This study, presented June 20 at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Philadelphia, suggests those heart hormones may hold promise for treating a variety of cancers. Vesely says that as well as being potentially effective against cancer, these naturally occurring hormones have fewer side effects than other cancer treatments.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about pancreatic cancer.

SOURCE: University of South Florida Health Sciences Center, news release, June 19, 2003
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