Scientists suggest beta-blockers as cancer, COVID-19 treatment

November 13, 2020

Beta-2 blockers such as Propranolol have been found to suppress inflammation and the spread of cancer in the lung, according to cancer researcher Dr. Nirmal Robinson at the Centre for Cancer Biology, the University of South Australia. These beta-2 blockers could potentially be used to treat COVID-19, which shares a similar inflammatory profile to cancer metastasis.

In short, beta-2 blockers work by temporarily stopping or reducing the body’s natural ‘fight-or-flight’ response; they significantly reduce stress on certain parts of the body, such as the heart and blood vessels in the brain. One of these, propranolol, commonly used to treat heart conditions, anxiety and migraine, has just recently been shown to treat inflammatory conditions including cancer, effectively.

“Patients with COVID-19 suffer from many abnormalities, including inflammation, because the SARS-CoV-2 virus disrupts the body’s immune system; patients with comorbidities, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, are at much higher risk,” Dr. Robinson said. “Beta-2 blockers could potentially reduce this inflammation and help rebalance the immune system.”

Other inflammation suppressors, including Tocilizumab (an immunosuppressive drug prescribed for arthritis) and Ruxolitinib (a drug used to treat the rare bone marrow blood cancer, myelofibrosis) have already been used to treat more serious COVID-19 cases.

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