Block that beta!

Who saw this coming? Not I:

A new study finds that carvedilol, a drug typically used to treat high blood pressure, can protect against the sun-induced cell damage that leads to skin cancer. Researchers serendipitously discovered the beta blocker’s cancer-fighting properties after making an error in the lab.

Sherry Liang, a graduate student at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy, will present the new findings at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting, to be held April 22-26 in Chicago.

“What began as an experimental error led to a very interesting scientific discovery,” said Ying Huang, PhD, coleader of the research team with Bradley T. Andresen, PhD. “Our research could lead to the development of a class of new cancer-preventive agents.”

Carvedilol’s cancer-fighting properties were discovered when a former graduate student in Huang’s lab was studying whether carvedilol and similar beta blockers might increase cancer risk. The student inadvertently tested carvedilol’s anticancer effect rather than its ability to promote cancer, finding that carvedilol surprisingly showed some protective effects against skin cancer.

Which is pure serendipity, given the drug’s primary function, warding off congestive heart failure.

Better yet, carvedilol — always trust drugs that end with “lol” — is out of patent and now swims with the $4 generics. (Former trade name: “Coreg.”)