Blood pressure drug enhances chemo benefits in pancreatic cancer treatment

Pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., may have a promising new drug treatment, according to researchers.

Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston, partnered on a clinical study that identified a new therapeutic combination of treatments for pancreatic cancer. The "promising treatment" lineup includes a blood pressure drug known as losartan, a chemotherapy cocktail called folfirinox, and chemoradiation.

The team of researchers analyzed blood and tissue samples from patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who were undergoing different types of treatments. What they found indicates that the inclusion of the blood pressure drug in combination with the other chemo-focused therapies may enhance the benefits of the cocktail and radiation by reducing immunosuppression in patients. 

"Our results are important because they would not only reveal how losartan may synergize with emerging cytotoxic regimens, but also provide valuable information for overcoming resistance to immunotherapy — such as immune checkpoint blockers — that can occur in pancreatic cancer," Rakesh Jain, PhD, a professor of tumor biology and radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.

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