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Another way to grow blood vessels
Date:2/20/2008

a second pathway that you need to know about if you are trying to activate or inhibit angiogenesis.

Angiogenesis occurs in the normal development of the body, but its also an on-call service when an injury or an artery blockage the cause of heart attacks and strokes leaves normal tissues starved for blood. Generating a new network of small vessels to nourish the area can protect against further injury. Muscle-building exercise also triggers angiogenesis to provide circulation for the enlarging muscle tissue.

On the downside, cancer has evolved the ability to commandeer VEGF and other angiogenic factors to encourage blood vessel growth around tumors that have outgrown their oxygen supplies.

In recent years, companies have developed a number of drugs that manipulate the angiogenic pathway in both directions. Among them are anti-angiogenic cancer drugs, including thalidomide and Avastin, which are designed to starve tumors by blocking the formation of blood vessels. Avastin is also used to dampen the abnormal growth of small vessels in the retina that causes macular degeneration in the eye.

Conversely, researchers have tried using VEGF and other compounds to improve the circulation in the legs and feet and even heart muscle of patients with poor blood supply.

Were still far from having good drugs to modulate angiogenesis through the HIF pathway, commented Arany. The discovery of a second, alternate pathway, involving PGC-1 alpha and ERR-alpha, leading to angiogenesis may offer new opportunities for therapy in any situation where angiogenesis is a factor, he said.


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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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