research: role of HIF-1 may spur study of digitalis in treatment of metastatic breast cancer
Posted Nov 11 2011 1:45am
Researchers studying the mechanism of metastasis have identified the role of a particular protein, HIF-1, necessary for the transportation, via blood vessels, of cancer cells from the primary site to a new site. The cells from the primary site must enter the blood stream, breaking through the vessel wall, travel through the blood stream to a new site (in this study, the lungs), then break through the vessel wall again and embed themselves into the new site. High levels of activity of the protein, HIF-1, which helps the cancer cells become mobile and then thrive in a new environment that would not accommodate the enhanced cellular activity because of insufficient blood flow and insufficient oxygen, indicate tumor growth and poor prognosis.
Researchers showed that using digitalis to inhibit the HIF-1 activity slowed tumor growth in liver and prostate cancers. The researchers on this study are now asking the question whether digitalis might also be effective in inhibiting HIF-1 in breast cancer as a way of also inhibiting metastasis.