A hormone important to controlling blood pressure can shrink lung cancer tumours, scientists in America have reported.
The scientists, from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, carried out experiments on lung cancer tumours in mice.
The research indicates that the hormone, angiotensin-(1-7), reduces an enzyme which regulates cell growth. This enzyme is found in 70 to 90 per cent of malignant lung tumours.
The idea to test the link between blood pressure drugs and lung cancer came about through studies which showed rates of lung cancer to be lower in people taking drugs to treat high blood pressure.
Frank Torti, director of Wake Forest's Cancer Centre, said: "We hope that our clinical trials of angiotensin-(1-7) will lead to the identification of an effective new cancer treatment for our patients."
Ann Tallant, senior researcher on the project, said: "The study may explain the molecular mechanism for a decreased risk of lung cancer in patients with high blood pressure taking [drugs containing the hormone]."
Research is now being carried out using human lung cancer patients. Scientists are confident that the hormone shows promise as a lung cancer treatment, either alone or in combination with other drugs.