-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The cancer drug Zaltrap
(aflibercept) could help treat diabetes, suggest findings from
research using mice.
Scientists say they've identified a molecular pathway (a series
of interactions among proteins) involved in the development of
diabetes, and also found that the drug can regulate this
Zaltrap is approved in the United States to treat metastatic
(spreading) colorectal cancer and the wet form of the eye disease
macular degeneration. The drug inhibits the vascular endothelial
growth factor (VEGF) pathway, thereby blocking the growth of blood
vessels into tumors and starving them of oxygen.
The researchers, from the Stanford University School of
Medicine, identified a series of proteins that link VEGF inhibitors
and blood glucose levels.
"We were surprised to find that this drug currently used in patients for cancer treatment had beneficial effects on diabetes in laboratory mice and could, potentially, in humans," Dr. Calvin Kuo, a professor of medicine, said in a university news release.
Scientists caution, however, that research with animals often
fails to provide similar results in humans.
"Proteins involved in this pathway could be targeted for the development of new diabetes therapies," Amato Giaccia, a professor of cancer biology and director of radiation oncology, said in the news release.
The findings appeared online Sept. 15 in two articles in the
The researchers said there have been indications that VEGF
inhibitors such as Zaltrap could influence blood glucose levels in
people, but no human studies have been conducted.
"Anecdotally, there have been reports that diabetic patients who have been prescribed VEGF inhibitors to treat their cancer are better able to control their diabetes," Kuo said.
Three co-authors of Kuo's study are employees at Regeneron
Pharmaceuticals, which makes aflibercept.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
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