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The anticancer drug sunitinib, which is known to damage heart muscle, destroys cells called pericytes that wrap around blood vessels and are essential to their function, report scientists from Amgen, in South San Francisco, California, in collaboration with investigators at the University of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston (Chintalgattu V et al. Sci Transl Med. 2013;5:187ra69).
Pericytes are dependent on signaling by platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), a protein targeted by sunitinib. By using the PDGFR inhibitor CP-673451, the researchers were able to recapitulate the kind of cardiotoxicity that sunitinib produces.
Hampton T. New Clues, Potential Solution to Cancer Drug’s Cardiotoxicity. JAMA. 2013;310(1):22. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.7639