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Progesterone inhibits growth of neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma, the most common form of cancer affecting small children.

High doses of the hormone progesterone can kill neuroblastoma cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed, Emory scientists have found in laboratory research.

The results suggest that progesterone could be used to fight neuroblastoma, the most common form of cancer affecting small children.

More research is necessary to determine the optimal dose, how long progesterone treatment should last, and if it should be used alone or in combination with radiation or chemotherapy. Progesterone also has been reported to slow growth of several other types of cancers in the laboratory but has not been used clinically against neuroblastoma.

In a mouse model, progesterone treatment cut tumor growth in half over eight days, while no drug toxicity was seen with healthy neurons or in live animals. The researchers showed that progesterone can decrease the levels of proteins produced by tumor cells that attract new blood vessel growth and help tumor cells invade other tissues. 

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