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New strategy to attack tumor-feeding blood vessels
Date:6/6/2011

Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered a key molecule needed to kill the blood vessels that supply tumours.

The research team from the institute's Molecular Genetics of Cancer and Cancer and Haematology divisions found that for anti-cancer therapies that target tumour blood vessels to work the death- inducing molecule Bim is required. The finding could lead to improved anti-cancer treatments that are based on a two- or three-pronged attack on both the tumour and its blood supply. The research will be published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine today.

The growth of solid tumours, such as lung cancer, breast cancer and melanoma, depends on nutrients and oxygen being provided by the tumour blood supply. Cancer cells encourage the growth of blood vessels to feed a tumour by producing the hormone-like protein, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The research by Drs Edwina Naik, Leigh Coultas and Lorraine O'Reilly, and Professors Jerry Adams and Andreas Strasser showed that VEGF produced by tumours blocks production of Bim in the cells that line the tumour blood vessels.

New 'anti-angiogenic' medications that attack the blood vessels within tumours are showing promise in starving many types of cancers by reducing their blood supply.

In this study, in experimental melanoma, lung cancer and breast cancer models, Bim levels increased in the cells lining the blood vessels when VEGF was depleted by anti-angiogenic drugs, ultimately killing the blood vessel cells. VEGF depletion reduced the number of blood vessels in tumours, making the tumours shrink. However, in mice in which the blood vessels do not express Bim, VEGF depletion did not affect the number of tumour-associated blood vessels, and tumours grown in Bim-deficient mice did not respond to anti-angiogenic treatments.

Dr Strasser said this finding suggests that strategies for treating tumours by attacking the tu
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Contact: Penny Fannin
fannin@wehi.edu.au
61-393-452-345
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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