Statins May Inhibit Tumor Growth According To Study
According to new study, researchers found that statins can stop tumor metastasis by blocking development of lymphatic vessels. The study was led by Michael Detmar, Professor at the ETH Zurich Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and published in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This discovery was made by using a newly developed cell culture system that is able to screening for various compounds which have the propriety of being modulators of lymphatic vessel expansion. Lymphatic vessel growth is a very important factor in tumor cell dissemination. With this system, scientists were able to screen for over 1000 substances, of which 30 compounds show their capacity to inhibit lymphatic vessel expansion. Among this 30 compounds, two were studied in more detail. One of the two compounds belongs to the drug class of statins.
Statins are drugs used to combat atherosclerosis. Rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, simvastatin and other cholesterol-lowering compounds inhibit HMG-CoA reductase and reduce blood cholesterol levels. In other words, statins reduce LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol. So far, studies have shown that statins can prevent complications such as stroke or myocardial infarction. For a good control of cholesterol level, statin therapy should be completed with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and physical exercise.
By lowering blood cholesterol, statins decrease the risk of plaque formation that may lead to blockage of blood vessels. Moreover, it was found that statins poses beneficial effects in secondary prevention of cardiovascular complications, by helping the regression of atherosclerosis. Statins keep plaque stability and prevent thrombus formation. It is known that, like any drug, statins have some side effects, of which the most common are elevated liver enzymes and muscle pain. Elevated liver enzymes, can lead to liver dysfunction and therefore, it is necessary to monitor liver enzymes during treatment. Other side effects include myalgia, rhabdomyolysis, neuropathy, cognitive loss, sexual dysfunction.
Scientists consider that in the future, statins might not only be administrated to patients with cardiovascular disorders, but also to cancer patients, because most of the malignant tumor spread over the body via lymphatic vessels or secret mediators that induce lymphatic vessel growth as a part of metastasis process. Blocking metastasis is one of the targets for cancer therapy. However, as stated Michael Detmar, Professor at the ETH Zurich Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, there is no available treatment in clinical practice to stop tumor metastasis. This findings are also useful in preventing transplant rejection, because it is known that immune cells which are mediating organ rejection are transported via lymphatic vessels, and there are studies indicating that graft rejection can be reduced if the growth of lymphatic vessels is inhibited.
The discovery according to which development and invasion of malignant tumors can be stopped by statins is supported by a study published 5 weeks ago, in which were investigated malignancies of over 100 patients with heart transplantation within the last 20 years. This study concluded that patients under continuous statin therapy developed cancer less frequently and had a better prognosis compared to patients without statin therapy. Also, studies done so far have shown that statins administered for a period of five years can reduce the risk of colon cancer.