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NIH scientists find a potential new avenue for cancer therapies
Date:12/19/2011

Recent findings in mice suggest that blocking the production of small molecules produced in the body, known as epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs), may represent a novel strategy for treating cancer by eliminating the blood vessels that feed cancer tumors. This research is the first to show that EETs work in concert with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein known to induce blood vessel growth. Together, EETs and VEGF promote metastasis, or the spread of cancer, by encouraging the growth of blood vessels that supply nutrients to cancer cells.

The research team comprised of scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and several other institutions, published its data online in the Dec. 19 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Preclinical research suggests that patients with a variety of vascular conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, stroke, and heart attack may benefit by increasing their EET levels, because the compounds cause blood vessels to dilate and reduce tissue inflammation and cell death. However, previous work has also demonstrated that EETs make tumor cells grow faster and cause them to migrate and become metastatic. Darryl Zeldin, M.D., NIEHS scientific director and author on the paper, said he believed that human metabolism has to achieve a certain harmony in regard to EETs.

"The body has to produce enough EETs to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system without promoting cancer. It has to balance the double-edged sword just right," Zeldin said.

To find out how EETs encourage the development of cancer, the team created two mice strains, one with high levels of EETs and one with low levels of EETs.

"The mice with higher EETs developed more metastatic tumors compared to the mice with lower EETs," Zeldin said. "Often, the tumor itself will produce more EETs, which can spe
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Contact: Robin Arnette
arnetter@niehs.nih.gov
919-541-5143
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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