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Culprit behind unchecked angiogenesis identified
Date:3/29/2012

This press release is available in German.

Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, is a complex process during which different signalling proteins interact with each other in a highly coordinated fashion. The growth factor VEGF and the Notch signalling pathway both play important roles in this process. VEGF promotes vessel growth by binding to its receptor, VEGFR2, while the Notch signalling pathway acts like a switch capable of suppressing angiogenesis. Until recently, scientists had assumed that Notch cancels the effects of VEGF through the downregulation of VEGFR2. Now, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine and the Westphalian Wilhelms-University in Mnster, Germany, were able to demonstrate that defective Notch signalling enables strong and deregulated vessel growth even when VEGF or VEGFR2 are inhibited. In this case, a different VEGF family receptor, VEGFR3, is strongly upregulated, promoting angiogenesis. "This finding might help explain drug resistance issues in certain types of cancer therapy and could become the basis for novel treatment strategies," suggests Ralf Adams, MPI's Executive Director and Chair of the Department of Tissue Biology and Morphogenesis.

An extensively branched network of blood vessels provides every organ of the body with nutrients and removes harmful metabolic waste products from tissues. Growth of this vascular system is essential for development and wound healing processes. Uncontrolled angiogenesis contributes to diseases like hemangiomas, the sponge-like overgrowth of blood vessels in the skin, or retinopathies impairing the eyesight of diabetic and elderly individuals. In cancer therapy, inhibition of angiogenesis is used to starve tumours and prevent the metastatic spread of cancer cells via the circulation. At present, this is most frequently done by targeting VEGF or its re
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Contact: Ralf H. Adams
ralf.adams@mpi-muenster.mpg.de
49-251-703-65400
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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