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A New Study Suggests That A Neurotransmitter Might Improve The Treatment Of Cancer

Posted Dec 05 2011 8:49pm

Doses of a neurotransmitter might offer a way to boost the effectiveness of anticancer drugs and radiation therapy, according to a new study led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

Using animal models of human breast and prostate cancers, the researchers found that injections of the neurotransmitter dopamine can improve blood flow to tumors and improve delivery of an anticancer drug, doubling the amount of the drug in tumors and increasing its effectiveness. The increased blood flow also raised tumor oxygen levels, a condition that typically improves the effectiveness of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The study also found that dopamine plays an important role in maintaining the structure of normal blood vessels, and that it does this by working through the D2 dopamine receptor, which is present in normal blood-vessel cells called endothelial cells and pericytes. Dopamine was absent in tumor blood-vessel cells.

The findings are published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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