A new study suggests that
the drug commonly used to reduce organ rejection in transplant recipients
appears to increase the growth of tumors.
Researchers at Cornell University in New York found that the drug cyclosporine appears to promote the growth of pre-existing tumors by increasing production of a natural protein called transforming growth factor beta (TGF-b). The cyclosporine apparently increases the chance cancer cells will divide and invade surrounding tissue, researchers report in the Feb. 11 issue of Nature.
However, it's not clear if cyclosporine can change normal cells into cancer cells, researchers say.
Cyclosporine is used to suppress a patient's immune system. Scientists believed transplant recipients were already at a risk for cancer because their weakened immune systems could not keep healthy cells from becoming malignant.
But now researchers suggest that cyclosporine has a direct effect on the growth of cancer cells that already existed in the body. Researchers say the finding offers hope for blocking cancer growth in transplant patients.