Can beta blockers be used for cancer treatment?
Part of what makes cancer difficult to treat is the great variety of characteristics between different cancer types. Cancer treatments can target different parts of different cells, genetic information, and communication between cells, but the specific method of targeting depends heavily on the type of cancer.
One promising treatment method that may apply across a variety of cancers is the use of beta blockers for cancer treatment. Beta blockers prevent a particular type of receptor, called “beta-adrenergic” receptors, from activating. These receptors are usually activated by adrenaline, and preventing that activation has a variety of effects within the body. Beta blockers are prescribed for some types of heart disease, as well as some types of anxiety.
They may also help treat cancer.
In a recent study published in Oncoscience, researchers at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center examined a variety of cancers to examine the likelihood of using beta blockers for cancer treatment.
Beta-adrenergic receptors across cancer types
Beta blockers have already been studied in several types of cancer, including reproductive cancers, angiosarcoma, and multiple myeloma. In this study, the researchers examined cancer cells from other types of cancer, looking for beta-adrenergic receptors that might respond to beta blockers.
Types of cancer that may be treated by targeting beta-adrenergic receptors included: melanoma, esophagus, pancreatic, kidney, and lung cancer. When tumor cells show more activity in their beta-adrenergic receptors, those receptors may be a good target for treatment.
Said the authors: “The observations reported in this study will help to identify [beta-adrenergic] receptor positive tumors types so that future efforts evaluating the anti-cancer efficacy of beta blockade can be directed at the most promising targets.”