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On the road to a new cancer therapy -- starving the tumor
Date:11/1/2007

Louvain, Belgium Cancer is the major cause of death among men. Based on the current trends, scientists predict that, by about 2010, cancer will be the No. 1 cause of death for women as well. VIB scientists connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in collaboration with the Flemish biotech company ThromboGenics, have been studying the anti-cancer action of anti-PLGF. This substance appears not only to be successful in the treatment of tumors for which the current therapies fail, but it also contributes to the greater effectiveness of existing chemotherapy, and still without side effects. Thus, anti-PLGF might possibly form the basis for a new treatment for cancer. This new finding, which is extremely important, was published in one of the most prestigious journals: CELL.

What is cancer?

Our body is built of billions of cells. Old or damaged cells are continuously being replaced, and cell division is strictly controlled, with new cells produced only as they are needed. However, this is not the case with cancer cells: cancer cells know how to circumvent the control system and go on multiplying out of control. The proliferating cells spread to surrounding tissue or are carried to other tissues and organs via the blood or the lymph system. This seriously disrupts our bodys vital functions − often with deadly consequences.

Blood vessel formation (or angiogenesis)

Every developing tissue is supplied with oxygen and nutrients via our blood vessels. But tumors grow much more quickly than normal tissues and so they have a greater need of nutrients. This is why, at a certain moment, tumor cells produce growth factors. These growth factors stimulate the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor cells. In this way, even the innermost part of the tumor is supplied with nutrients.

Curbing blood vessel formation as a treatment for cancer

Peter Carmeliet and his colleagues are using this knowledge c
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Contact: Evy Vierstraete
evy.vierstraete@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology
Source:Eurekalert

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