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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Feb 27;104(9):3460-5. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Improvement of cancer-targeting therapy, using nanocarriers for intractable solid tumors by inhibition of TGF-beta signaling.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033 Japan.


Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta plays a pivotal role in regulation of progression of cancer through effects on tumor microenvironment as well as on cancer cells. TGF-beta inhibitors have recently been shown to prevent the growth and metastasis of certain cancers. However, there may be adverse effects caused by TGF-beta signaling inhibition, including the induction of cancers by the repression of TGF-beta-mediated growth inhibition. Here, we present an application of a short-acting, small-molecule TGF-beta type I receptor (TbetaR-I) inhibitor at a low dose in treating several experimental intractable solid tumors, including pancreatic adenocarcinoma and diffuse-type gastric cancer, characterized by hypovascularity and thick fibrosis in tumor microenvironments. Low-dose TbetaR-I inhibitor altered neither TGF-beta signaling in cancer cells nor the amount of fibrotic components. However, it decreased pericyte coverage of the endothelium without reducing endothelial area specifically in tumor neovasculature and promoted accumulation of macromolecules, including anticancer nanocarriers, in the tumors. Compared with the absence of TbetaR-I inhibitor, anticancer nanocarriers exhibited potent growth-inhibitory effects on these cancers in the presence of TbetaR-I inhibitor. The use of TbetaR-I inhibitor combined with nanocarriers may thus be of significant clinical and practical importance in treating intractable solid cancers.

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