Los Angeles: A drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure may protect against the sun-induced cell damage that leads to skin cancer, a new study claims. Researchers from Western University of Health Sciences in the US found that the drug called carvedilol surprisingly showed some protective effects against skin cancer.
They then conducted experiments with cell cultures and mice to see if carvedilol could prevent skin cancer caused by ultraviolet-B (UVB), the portion of sunlight that tends to damage the skin’s top epidermal layers and plays a key role in skin cancer development. Researchers found that carvedilol exhibited a protective effect in cultured mouse skin cells exposed to UVB and in hairless mice given the drug after UVB exposure.
The experiments showed that carvedilol acted by protecting cells against the cancer-causing DNA damage and cell death produced by UVB.
Hairless mice exposed to UVB and given carvedilol showed decreases in both the severity and number of tumours that developed compared to those not given carvedilol. The mouse studies also showed that carvedilol delayed skin tumour formation more than sunscreen.
Researchers also discovered that not all beta blockers show cancer preventive properties, indicating that the cancer-fighting beta blockers likely act on not yet identified molecules. “We have preliminary data indicating that the cellular targets for carvedilol are not related to the beta-adrenergic receptors that are the commonly accepted targets for all beta blockers,” Bradley T Andresen from Western University of Health Sciences. “They likely target unexpected mechanisms involved in cancer development,” Andresen said.