Researchers at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center have demonstrated a new way to target and choke off the blood supply to cancerous liver tumors in mice. The new method inhibited liver tumor growth and extended survival in mice by blocking a receptor on blood vessel endothelial cells that triggers blood vessel growth. Blocking this "Tie2" receptor worked as well as or better than naturally occurring proteins that inhibit blood vessel growth in tumors, the study showed.
The new study comes on the heels of a June 2003 report from Duke that a new drug, Bevacizumab (trade name Avastin), shrinks tumors and extends survival in patients with colorectal cancer that has spread. Spreading cancer is called "metastatic" cancer, and it is particularly deadly when it reaches the liver. More than 75 percent of colon cancer patients die as a direct result of metastases to the liver, so finding new ways to inhibit liver tumor growth is extremely important, said the Duke researchers.
Bevacizumab and the new treatment approach both work by blocking tumor angiogenesis, the process by which tumor cells grow new blood vessels. Bevacizumab inhibits a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which malignant cells secrete in order to grow and maintain their blood vessels. When VEGF is blocked by bevacizumab, the tumors blood supply is diminished and the tumor shrinks and slows its spread.
Becky Levine | DUMC
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