How clinicians talk to their patients about angiosarcoma, a very lethal form of soft tissue sarcoma, may soon be changing based on research of an already established drug. Researchers have found that propranolol, a drug used to treat hypertension, may be a surprising new tool that results in tumor regression or stabilization of the disease.1
Currently, there is an urgent need for new treatment options as this type of cancer carries high mortality rates. Researchers are cautiously optimistic that this agent may significantly improve outcomes in patients with angiosarcoma.
The European Commission (EC) is fast tracking this generic drug to be repurposed for soft tissue sarcoma. The EC recently granted Orphan Drug Designation to propranolol, which was developed in the 1960s.
Brad Bryan, PhD, a biomedical scientist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), has helped pioneer the use of propranolol for angiosarcoma. He has seen patients significantly benefit from it and the treatment had little to no side effects. Dr Bryan said several scientists across the world have reported similar results after testing propranolol on their own patients.
If proven to be effective, the price of propranolol may set it apart from other treatment. Propranolol is a generic drug and it currently costs about $4/month compared with current drug therapies for sarcomas that can cost upwards of $10,000/month.
1. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. Press Release: Common heart drug repurposed to treat rare cancer in Europe. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170117083828.htm. Published January 17, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2017.