Drugs designed to halt cancer growth may offer a new way to control high blood pressure (hypertension), say Georgetown University Medical Center investigators. The finding could offer a real advance in hypertension treatment because although a number of high blood pressure drugs are now available, they work by different mechanisms that are not suited for all patients.

The study, published in the journal Hypertension, found that fibroblast growth factors, or FGFs, involved in increasing blood vessel growth so that cancer can grow, also have a systemic effect on blood pressure. The study suggests that just as oncologists use FGF inhibitors to control cancer, clinicians may be able to use FGF inhibitors to regulate blood pressure and control disease associated with hypertension.

“It’s rare that a single class of drugs can be used for such different conditions, but that is what our study strongly suggests,” says the study’s senior investigator, Anton Wellstein, MD, PhD, professor of oncology and pharmacology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and a researcher at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Wellstein and his collaborators previously found that the FGF pathway, when switched on, drives growth of blood vessels that feed a growing tumor (angiogenesis). The development of FGF inhibitors is based in part on their ability to inhibit angiogenesis. The current study took a deeper dive into the pathway and found that a protein, FGFBP1, modulates FGF. The gene that produces FGFBP1 to regulate FGF is known as FGF binding protein 1.

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