Cancer drugs that shrink tumours by cutting off their blood supply may end up helping them to spread, a study suggests.
Drugs such as Glivec and Sutent reduce the size of tumours but could also make them more aggressive and mobile, it is claimed.
A little-studied group of cells called pericytes that provide structural support to blood vessels act as ‘gatekeepers’ to pen in cancer, scientists have discovered.
Pericytes are wiped out by some advanced cancer drugs that prevent the growth of tumour-nourishing blood vessels, the research shows.
As a result tumours find it easier to ‘metastasise’, or spread around the body.
Tests on mice showed that both Glivec and Sutent depleted pericytes by 70 per cent while metastasis rates tripled.