NIH researchers have found what may be a novel way of treating cancer, says an NIH press release. According to a recent National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, blocking the production of small molecules called epoxyeicosatrienoic acids, or EETs, eliminates the blood vessels that deliver nutrients to tumors. This study shows how EETs work with VEGF to promote metastasis, the agency says. The team created two kinds of mice — one with high levels of EETs and one with low levels — and found that the mice with high EET levels developed more metastatic tumors compared to the other mice. EETs lead directly to angiogenesis, the researchers found. The EET process can be arrested by using novel antagonists like EEZE, a compound that interfered with EET production in mice, NIH says. EEZE is not approved for human use, but the researchers say this study may lead to the development of other compounds that work in a similar manner.
Some research suggests that patients with vascular conditions like diabetes or hypertension may benefit from increased EET levels, but studies have also shown that EETs cause tumors to grow faster. NIEHS' Darryl Zeldin, one of the paper's authors, says human metabolism has to develop an EET balance enough to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, but without promoting cancer.