A new study suggests that the Parkinson’s Disease medication dopamine may be effective in retarding the growth of cancerous tumors. The study shows that dopamine can stop the growth of new blood vessels (known as angeogenesis) in the tumors.
Dr. Sujit Basu, an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic, said, “Researchers can now test this concept in solid tumors where angiogenesis plays a critical role in the growth and progression of these cancers… This is the first time it has been shown that an important neurotransmitter like dopamine is regulating the mobilization of these progenitor cells from the bone marrow. This is very important, and represents why these findings are so unique.”
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that regulates movement and affects behavior. The tests were conducted with synthetic dopamine. Dr. Basu found that when dopamine was used in both laboratory and mouse tests, it prevented the transmission of endothelial progenitor cells (cells which are crucial to the growth of new blood vessels) from bone marrow into the bloodstream. The dopamine binds to the surface of the endothelial progenitor cells, and prevents an enzyme (MMP-9) from acting and moving the endothelial progenitor cells from the marrow into the circulatory system.
This is just one example of the many old drugs that are finding new uses. “Sometimes new drugs may not be the answer. We looked instead at a novel use for an established product, and have found very promising results,” said Dr. Basu.