Over 12,000 cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed annually in Australia. Approximately 50% of these patients will develop spread of the cancer to the liver (metastases) and this is the major cause of death. The treatment is limited and most patients are only suitable for chemotherapy which is at best palliative in nature.
An alternative approach is inhibition of the formation of blood vessels that allow the liver metastases to grow. There is now accumulating evidence, both in population studies and animal experiments that the renin angiotensin system (RAS) of the liver may inhibit cancer growth and that drugs that inhibit the RAS, commonly used in the treatment of hypertension, may be an alternative treatment strategy.
Our preliminary experiments in animals have shown that the use of drugs that block the RAS dramatically decrease the number and volume of colorectal cancer liver metastases and that various components of the RAS are increased in liver metastases. Further investigations to elucidate the underlying mechanisms are required.
Pharmacological blockade or immunotherapy modulation of the RAS may prove an alternative or adjunctive treatment strategy in the treatment of colon cancer that has spread to the liver.
Professor Christopher Christophi, Professor Peter Angus, Mr Vijayaragavan Muralidharan
The University of Melbourne, Dept of Surgery
Research Grant: 2007-2009
$66,875 per annum for 3 years