Heart failure enzyme role identified that could improve cancer survival

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Feb 10 2011 - 9:15am
Cancer

Researchers have identified the role of an enzyme that causes heart failure in cancer patients and limits the amount of chemotherapy that can be given.

Researchers say the findings could lead to improved treatment for patients undergoing chemotherapy by developing drugs that protect the heart by blocking the action of the enzyme, known as NADPH oxidase.

The research, conducted at Queen's Centre for Vision and Vascular Science, is considered a breakthrough because it will allow cancer patients to receive chemotherapy drugs that can destroy tumors, potentially leading to higher cure rates.

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Dr David Grieve who led the study says, "Although we have known about the NADPH oxidase enzyme for many years, until now, we were not aware of its crucial role in causing heart damage associated with chemotherapy. Our research findings hold clear potential for the creation of new drugs to block the action of the enzyme, which could significantly reduce heart damage in cancer patients."

He explains damage to the heart from chemotherapy drugs can be irreversible, limiting the amount of the drugs patients can safely receive. He says, "By reducing the risk of heart failure associated with chemotherapy, patient survival rates could be significantly increased."

The new findings are important for cancer outcomes. The next step for the researchers is to find drugs that block the actions of NADPH oxidase. The Queen's research team is focusing efforts on developing drugs to block the enzyme that will allow cancer patients to receive chemotherapy without the risk of developing heart failure.

Queen's University Belfast

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