June 24, 2008

Some Cancer Drugs Bad for Heart Patients

U.S. medical scientists say a set of promising new anti-cancer agents called hedgehog antagonists might present a risk for people with heart disease.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said the hedgehog antagonists interfere with a biochemical process called hedgehog signaling that promotes growth in some cancer cells. But the study showed interfering with that biochemical process in mice with heart disease led to further deterioration of cardiac function and ultimately death.

This finding should serve as a warning that these drugs might have adverse effects on the heart and that it could be very important to monitor patients' cardiovascular health when using this type of anti-cancer drug, said senior study author Dr. David Ornitz.

He said the study is the first demonstration that hedgehog signaling is essential to maintain a healthy supply of blood vessels in adult heart muscle.

The research that included Dr. Kory Lavine appears in the advance online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.