"NIEHS was pleased to work with such a distinguished international research team to address this important issue," Zeldin said.
With the models, the researchers were able to document that increasing the levels of EET levels either by increasing their natural production or injecting them systemically creates an environment conducive to tumor growth, even contributing to the transition of early tumors from a dormant state to active malignancy. They also found that EETs work in concert with VEGF, a potent stimulator of angiogenesis in both normal and cancerous tissues, to promote tumor metastasis, even in cancers that rarely spread to other organs.
"Many people have dormant tumors that may never become fully malignant," said Panigrahy. "The switch from a dormant to an active state is critically dependent on angiogenesis, as is metastasis, and so patients who have a high cancer risk could potentially increase that risk further by raising their EET levels."
The study team also found that compounds that block the activity of EETs, called EET antagonists, could reduce tumor growth and metastasis in the same animal models, suggesting that such compounds could have benefit as cancer treatments.
"Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in North America, and as such drugs that raise EET levels could provide significant benefit," says DF/CHCC's Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, one of the paper's senior authors. "We must be cautious, though, that in manipulating these molecules to regulate blood pressure we do not favor cancer growth and metastasis, another common cause of death.
"With these findings, though," Kieran continued, "we now have a better idea of how cancers drive themselves, opening up a new pathway for understanding and potentially treating cancer and metastasis that wasn't available to us before. At the same time, this data could potentially help inform the design of cardiovascular drug
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