The derivative slowed tumor growth, shrunk tumors, and extended the life of the mice.
Researchers at Duke Medicine have identified a new strategy for treating neuroblastoma using a modified version of heparin, a century-old injectable drug that thins the blood to prevent clots from forming.
The study, conducted in mice and published June 17, 2014, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that when heparin is altered to remove its blood-thinning properties, it can suppress and shrink neuroblastoma tumors without causing severe bleeding.
“Our research translates mechanistic insights about heparin into a potential new therapy for neuroblastoma, and possibly other cancers,” said senior author Gerard C. Blobe, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke.
Neuroblastoma is a cancer that arises in nerve tissue, and is typically seen in infants and children. While neuroblastoma is rare overall — 700 new cases in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society – it is the most common cancer in infants.