Drugs used in patients with heart failure and irregular heart beat may slow or stop cancer progression, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to ScienceDaily, these types of digitalis-based drugs, such as digoxin, help reduce the production of the HIF-1 protein. HIF-1 controls the genes that help cells survive under low-oxygen conditions. HIF-1 amounts increase in cancer cells looking to survive in such conditions.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reviewed more than 3,000 FDA-approved drugs, and tested each drug's ability to reduce HIF-1 in cancer cells, according to ScienceDaily, which noted the top 20 drugs reduced the protein by more than 88%. Half of the drugs in that top 20 belong to a class of drugs commonly used for treating heart conditions.
Study authors caution that higher than normal levels of the drugs were used, which means more research is necessary before using these drugs to fight cancer.