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New cancer therapy may fight cardiovascular disease
Date:3/30/2010

AUGUSTA, Ga. - New drugs that are helping fight a multi-front war on cancer may do the same for cardiovascular disease, Medical College of Georgia researchers said.

Cancer and cardiovascular disease, both among top U.S. killers, share inflammation as a cause. Heat shock protein 90 inhibitors as a treatment could become additional common ground, said Dr. John Catravas, director of MCG's Vascular Biology Center.

"I think hsp90 inhibitors may be some of the best anti-inflammatory drugs we have," said Catravas, who is among the first scientists to explore the new cancer treatment's potential in cardiovascular disease.

Inflammation in the short term helps fight infection but becomes problematic when it is chronic or severe. For example, if acute inflammation causes contraction of endothelial cells (tight-fitting cells lining blood vessel walls), blood and fluid can leak into tissue a particularly deadly scenario in the lungs where it causes acute respiratory distress syndrome.

"Fifty percent of patients diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome die because their endothelial cells have been so damaged." Catravas said. He and his colleagues have shown that hsp90 inhibitors can block this cell contraction and subsequent swelling in laboratory mice with acute inflammation.

A new $1.8 million, five-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will enable the team to also study hsp90 inhibitors' impact on the cardiovascular complications that typically occur in people with the common double whammy of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Complications arise when chronic inflammation causes proliferation of smooth muscle cells inside blood vessel walls, prompting previously smooth and flexible walls to thicken and stiffen. "Our hypothesis is that if we treat them with hsp90 inhibitors, we should be able to reduce the cardiovascular problems associated with type 2 diabetes," Catravas said.

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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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