Antihypertensive Drug Could Be an Inexpensive Anticancer Agent

A new research study published in the Journal of Dermatology has found that propranolol, a commonly used antihypertensive agent, could substantially reduce proliferation of angiosarcoma.

A new research study published in the Journal of Dermatology has found that treating angiosarcoma with propranolol—a beta blocker most commonly used to treat hypertension, dysrhythmias, and other cardiac conditions—could substantially reduce proliferation of the cancer.

The authors, clinicians at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, treated a patient who presented with an enlarging lesion on his left cheek, forehead, and scalp, diagnosed as angiosarcoma, with propranolol hydrochloride. Within a week of propranolol monotherapy, tumor proliferation was found reduced by about 34%. When the patient was administered standard therapy of paclitaxel poliglumex, 2 mg/m2 infused weekly; radiotherapy during the subsequent 8 months; along with propranolol hydrochloride, 40 mg 3 times a day, the result was extensive tumor regression and the lack of metastases.

Calling their discovery a “major advancement in the treatment of angiosarcomas,” the authors point to the financial advantage that the drug presents. While current prescription treatments for sarcomas can cost over $10,000 per month, propranolol may cost about $4 per month.

The authors are now conducting a phase 2 study with propranolol in breast cancer patients.