Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death throughout the world. Standard treatment methods do not usually result in long-term recovery. In addition to the proliferation of the tumour cells, the growth of blood vessels controls tumors development.
Formation of PDE4 in oxygen-deficient lung tumour cells. Lung cells produce PDE4 (stained green: left) even if their oxygen content is normal. More PDE4 is produced (right) if they are oxygen-deficient (hypoxia). The cell nuclei are stained blue. © Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research
The blood vessel growth is controlled by several signalling molecules. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim and Justus Liebig University Giessen have discovered a molecule that plays a key role in this process. They succeeded in reducing tumour growth in their experiments by blocking the phosphodiesterase PDE4.Lung cancer mainly affects smokers; however the disease can also be caused by contact with carcinogenic substances like asbestos. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy often prove insufficient in treating the disease. Hence, scientists are engaged in an intensive search for ways of halting the growth of lung tumours. The blood vessels that supply the tumour with nutrients offer a potential point of attack.
ContactsDr. Rajkumar Savai
Oncogene (2012). doi:10.1038/onc.2012.136
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