By combining computational and experimental approaches, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Prairie View A&M University researchers identified cancer drugs that show promise for treating pulmonary hypertension, or PH, a rare and incurable lung disease.
Published today in Science Advances, the study used a new algorithm to identify candidate cancer drugs for PH. Two of these compounds improved markers of the disease in human cells and rodents. The findings support broader use of this drug-repurposing platform for other non-cancerous conditions that don’t yet have effective treatments.
“Repurposing drugs can cut down the time and cost of developing treatments for rare diseases, which historically don’t receive much investment into research and drug development,” said senior author Stephen Chan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Vascular Medicine Institute at Pitt and UPMC. “Pulmonary hypertension is an example of a rare disease where there is an unmet need for new treatments, given its devastating consequences. We developed this pipeline to rapidly predict which drugs are effective for PH and get these treatments to patients faster.”
Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that occurs in the vessels that transport blood from the heart to the lungs. As the disease progresses and the heart must strain harder against these high pressures, it can lead to heart failure, multi-organ dysfunction and death. PH affects people of all ages but hits young women more often than men.
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