Hope on the Horizon for Patients with Both Cancer and Diabetes

Tumors linked to high blood sugar can be successfully treated without affecting blood vessel growth.

Tumors linked to high blood sugar can be successfully treated without affecting blood vessel growth.

Patients afflicted with both diabetes and cancer received promising news from a new study published recently in The FASEB Journal.

Researchers found a tissue- and organ-specific mechanism that regulates blood vessel growth. The study showed that inhibiting this mechanism decreased tumor growth in diabetic mice.

Beyond just treating cancer associated with diabetes, this treatment approach may also treat other complications from diabetes linked to increased blood vessel growth, such as retinopathy or nephropathy.

"Complications of diabetes are the main reason for mortality and hospitalization of diabetic patients. The advanced methods of measuring and regulation of the blood sugar levels resulted in deaths from diabetic coma being very rare, but the vascular complications remain an important problem that leads to mortality and loss of quality of life," said researcher Olga Stenina-Adognravi, PhD. "Developing a new organ-specific way to prevent and treat the vascular complications and cancer growth in diabetic patients is the goal of our work."

For the study, researchers infused a small nucleic acid inhibitor into diabetic mice with breast cancer to target and inhibit the primary regulator of blood vessel growth caused by high blood sugar. A control group of animal models received a similar nucleic acid fragment, which had no impact.

After these experiments concluded, the tumors were excised, measured, and evaluated for blood vessel growth. The researchers noted that the inhibitor blocked the pathway initiated by high blood sugar that causes increased blood vessel growth.

By doing so, the treatment approach slowed the growth of both the blood vessels and cancer. The same inhibitor did not have any impact on organs and tissues unaffected by increased blood vessel growth.

"Diabetes is a very serious disease and its association with cancer is ominous," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "This research helps us understand what goes wrong with tumor blood vessels in diabetes. It not only explains how high blood sugar promotes the growth of cancers, but also outlines a strategy for treating tumors in patients with diabetes."