Cancer drug could boost radiotherapy for bladder cancer

04 March 2013

A 'multi-tasking' cancer drug could improve radiotherapy treatments for aggressive bladder cancer cells, researchers in the UK say.

Imatinib, which is used to treat some leukaemias and soft tissue sarcomas, proved effective in aiding radiotherapy to destroy bladder cancer that has spread to the bladder wall.

Researchers described the findings as "exciting" and said the cancer drug could have potential to treat more cancer types.

The study, by teams at the universities of Leeds and Oxford, found that imatinib prevents a protein called RAD51 from repairing DNA damage in bladder cancer via a process called homologous recombination.

A separate key DNA repair process is faulty in aggressive bladder cancer cells, but not in healthy cells. This means that both repair processes are knocked out in cancer cells but healthy cells still have one route to repair damage, avoiding radiotherapy harm.

Study author Dr Anne Kiltie said: "These exciting results show that imatinib which is used to treat a range of cancer types may have untapped potential to treat more.

"We’ve found that bladder cancer cells have a weak spot that imatinib can zero in on and exploit - to enhance radiotherapy treatment."

Separate research recently published in medical journal PLoS ONE suggested that imatinib can relieve and slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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