A new class of nitric oxide blocking drugs may be able to boost the effectiveness of treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia, British researchers have reported.
The proposal comes after the London-based scientists discovered that the disease makes the bone marrow leak blood, reducing the effectiveness of chemotherapy as well as reducing oxygen delivery.
They say the new drugs can prevent this leaking.
So far the idea has been tested successfully on laboratory mice.
The work, published in Cancer Cell, was undertaken by the Francis Crick Institute, King's College London and the Barts Cancer Institute.
The nitric oxide blockers are already in clinical trials for other vascular conditions, the researchers say.
The research also suggests that a measurement of NO levels could indicate the seriousness of the disease - and a failure to reduce NO levels indicated chemotherapy failure.
Researcher Diana Passaro said: "We found that the cancer was damaging the walls of blood vessels responsible for delivering oxygen, nutrients, and chemotherapy.
'When we used drugs to stop the leaks in mice, we were able to kill the cancer using conventional chemotherapy.'
She added: 'Leaky vessels also prevent oxygen reaching parts of the bone marrow, which contributes to more NO production and leakiness.
'By restoring normal blood flow with NO blockers, we ensure that chemotherapy actually reaches the leukaemia cells, so that therapy works properly.'
Source: Increased Vascular Permeability in the Bone Marrow Microenvironment Contributes to Disease Progression and Drug Response in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cancer Cell 11 September 2017
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