Common Steroid Could Soften Up Tumors for Chemo

(Image Courtesy of John Martin, University of Tokyo, and Matthew Stuber, UConn)

 

By: Kim Krieger, UConn Communications

A common drug used to alleviate side effects of cancer treatment may also make the treatment more successful if given beforehand, report a consortium of research institutions including the University of Connecticut.

Dexamethasone, a steroid often given to decrease swelling and nausea, and relieve side effects of chemotherapy treatments for cancer, may also enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapy itself, the researchers reported in ACS Nano.

Cancerous tumors tend to grow abnormal blood vessels. Squished, twisted, and compressed, these blood vessels inside tumors also tend to be leaky. 

“This creates low pressure in the blood vessel, while the tumor tissue has high pressure. And you can’t flow from low to high pressure,” says Matthew Stuber, UConn assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, and study author. The low pressure in the blood vessels makes it hard for the chemotherapy drugs to penetrate the interior of the tumor. 

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