Science Questions

Does angiogenesis benefit metastasis?

Sun, 4th Nov 2012

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Question

Heather Williams, via Twitter asked:

Angiogenesis is critical to cancer growth, does it help metastasis too? Are there effective anti-angiogenic therapies now?

Answer

Simon -   Yes, angiogenesis is critical to metastasis.  If you think about all the normal organs in our body, the brain, liver, lungs, they all have a blood supply that takes nutrients to those organs and gets rid of waste from the organs.  A primary tumour is not normal, so it doesn’t have a blood supply.  And so, the only way it can spread around the body, metastasis as it were, is to actually develop a new blood supply.  So tumours actually secrete factors, cytokines which encourage the growth of new blood vessels so that the primary tumour becomes vascularised so that tumour cells can now leak out into the blood stream and spread around the body. 

There are new anti-angiogenic treatment therapies undergoing treatment at the moment.  One antibody which was mentioned earlier on is Avastin and also, small inhibitors of enzymes called vegf receptors and these are currently being tested in clinical trials at the moment.  So, anti-angiogenic therapy is very much a topical area.

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