February 28, 2008
Tumor Blood Vessels Help Cancers Grow?

This might be why anti-angiogenesis drugs (which block blood vessel growth) as tools against cancer have scored so few real successes.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tumors require a blood supply to grow, but how they acquire their network of blood vessels is poorly understood. A new study here shows that tumor blood vessels can develop from precancerous stem cells, a recently discovered type of cell that can either remain benign or become malignant.

Researchers say the findings provide new information about how tumors develop blood vessels, and why new drugs designed to block tumor blood-vessel growth are often less effective than expected.

The study by scientists at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Department of Pathology is to be published Feb. 20 in the journal PLoS ONE.

“These findings suggest that tumor blood vessels are derived mainly from tumor cells, with a smaller number coming from normal blood-vessel cells,” says principal investigator Jian-Xin Gao, assistant professor of pathology.

“This may explain why many anti-angiogenic drugs fail to block tumor growth.”

The recently deceased pioneer of anti-angiogenesis research against cancer, Harvard Medical School's Judah Folkman MD, in lectures showed stained slides of thyroids and other organs showing as people get older they have lots of small cancers in their bodies (yes, you have lots of small cancers in your body). These little cancers are all stuck at a stage where they can't grow any larger due to lack of ability to stimulate blood vessel growth. So they are stopped by lack of nutrients.

Maybe some cancers get past that obstacle by having some of their cells mutate into blood vessel generating cells. Or maybe mutations in blood vessel cells happen near existing mutated cancer cells. Then these two cell types basically team up to kill you. Either way, this report is bad news.

You can read the full research paper available in open access: Precancerous Stem Cells Can Serve As Tumor Vasculogenic Progenitors.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 February 28 09:35 PM  Biotech Cancer

Fat Man said at February 29, 2008 8:52 PM:

The irony is that Judah Folkman M.D., z"l was a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.S. 1953), and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where his father Rabbi Jerome Folkman Ph.D., z"l was the rabbi of the congregation I grew up in, and taught Sociology at OSU.

I was under the impression that Avastin, which received a second FDA approval is an anti-angiogenisis drug. Dr. Folkman had said that he did not expect these drugs, or any others, to cure cancer. He thought that our best hope is to make cancer a manageable problem like hypertension or diabetes.

statsquatch said at March 1, 2008 3:05 PM:

Avastin has been approved in three tumor types in the US: NSCLC (lung), MBC (Breast), and CRC (colon both first and second line). It has also showed activity in Renal cancer and some brain cancers. Unfortunately, the effects are short of a cure.

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