Nitroglycerin Could Increase the Effects of Cancer Treatment

Study shows nitroglycerin may improve the delivery of anticancer drugs.

Study shows nitroglycerin may improve the delivery of anticancer drugs.

A recent study found that nitroglycerin has great potential in treating patients with cancer and could enhance the effects of other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.

Nitroglycerin has many medical properties as it is readily available, inexpensive, and safe to use. The agent is typically used in the treatment of angina, but a recent study published in ecancermedicalscience showed that nitroglycerin could be repurposed to treat cancer.

The Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project that existing and widely-used non-cancer drugs may represent a relatively untapped source of novel therapies for cancer.

Many times, a cancer treatment fails due to tumor hypoxia or the lack of oxygen inside the tumor environment. The suffocating conditions make it difficult for doctors to penetrate the tumor with treatments.

“Any intervention that improves tumor oxygenation could improve radiation and chemotherapy outcomes,” said study author Vidula Sukhatme. “Nitroglycerin is one such agent. It’s immediately available, inexpensive and relatively non-toxic. It would be a shame to ignore its potential for patient benefit just because it is an old drug and has multiple mechanisms of action.”

In addition to its benefits in treating tumor hypoxia, nitroglycerin could also improve the delivery of anticancer drugs, according to study author Pan Pantziakra, PhD, member of the ReDO project and the Anticancer Fund.

“One of the nicest things about nitroglycerin is the method of delivery — transdermal patches, which mean that patients may be able to get additional benefit from their existing treatments without having to take more tablets or intravenous medicines,” Pantziakra explained.

While nitroglycerin certainly possesses the qualities of an anticancer treatment, its status as an older drug keeps many from supporting its use in oncology. Further studies and support from other physicians is still needed to get nitroglycerin treatment available to patients.

Until then, scientists must spend their time convincing others and advocating for the use of nitroglycerin in cancer treatments in order to get the treatment approved for universal use.