Cancer and Angiogenesis

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Introduction

Angiogenesis, the construction of new vasculature, has been recognized as a key step in cancer for over 100 years, but it was not until the 1970's that Judah Folkman suggested that the abnormal development of vasculature could be used to target malignant tumors.1 Anti-angiogenic therapies, including antibodies to key angiogenic growth factors and small molecule inhibitors, are now being developed by pharmaceutical companies as a way to stop angiogenesis and prevent tumor growth and metastasis.
The creation of new blood vessels is normal and occurs routinely as part of wound healing, pregnancy, and menarche. As with normal tissue, solid tumors require oxygen and nutrients to continue growth, and tumors obtain oxygen from a nearby circulatory capillary. Since the diffusion distance of oxygen is 100-200 μm, tumor cells farther than that distance from the capillary evolve into a hypoxic (oxygen-starved) state. This hypoxia leads to expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other factors to initiate angiogenesis. Read More...