Scientists have discovered how a family of enzymes used in the development of drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction can increase the effect of chemotherapy in treating esophageal cancer, according to new research from the UK.
In the first results of the research program published this Tuesday 21 June a Cell brings back the medicineScientists have found that the enzyme inhibitor mechanism used primarily in the treatment of erectile dysfunction can reverse resistance to chemotherapy and significantly reduce the development of cancerous tumors of the esophagus.
The hope lies in the PDE5 inhibitor, a substance that inhibits the action of the enzyme phosphodiesterase located in the smooth muscle cells that line the blood vessels that specifically supply the corpora cavernosa of the penis.
Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) is an enzyme that naturally slows down the erection mechanism. When this enzyme is inhibited, the erection is prolonged: this is what drugs against erection disorders like Viagra, the most famous of which, favor.
Such cooperation between this treatment for erectile dysfunction and chemotherapy would therefore play a fundamental role in the metastatic evolution of the tumor.
Resistance to chemotherapy in esophageal cancer is influenced by the “tumor microenvironment”, the area surrounding the tumor. This is made up of molecules, blood vessels, and cells such as cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which are important for tumor growth. This “tumor microenvironment” feeds the tumor and can act as a protective mantle, preventing the effect of treatments such as chemotherapy.
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However, it appears that high levels of PDE5 have been found in fibroblasts taken from within the tumor microenvironment, suggesting to the researchers that PDE5 would be an effective target for the treatment of esophageal cancer cells. Clinical trials will now continue to develop an appropriate care protocol over the next few years.
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Because according to the first results, PDE5 inhibitors combined with chemotherapy could shrink some esophageal cancers more than chemotherapy alone, attacking resistance to chemotherapy, corresponding to one of the main treatment challenges: esophageal cancer. More importantly, this breakthrough could pave the way for the use of PDE5 inhibitors in other cancers.
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In all likelihood, if a treatment leaves this program, it could help a significant number of patients around the world. On average, between 8,000 and 9,000 people are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year in France.
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