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'Normalizing' tumor vessels leaves cancer more benign
Date:2/12/2009

normal amount of PHD2 in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels, tumor vessels were found in the same numbers and sizes. However, the shape and structure of those vessels was more "normal," with linings made up of tightly aligned, orderly shaped and smooth cells having a cobblestone appearance.

That more regular vessel structure improved tumors' oxygen supply, leading to physiological changes that counteracted the overall malignancy of the cancer, they report. The cells were better able to counterbalance the "abnormalizing" effects of the tumors, and halt the progression to metastasis.

The findings in mice may have medical implications. "By normalizing the tumor vasculature, partial loss of PHD2 may shift tumors from an aggressive metastasizing tumor type to a more benign, well-encapsulated tumor," the researchers said. The partial loss of PHD2 doesn't seem to affect the blood vessels of healthy tissues, they said, suggesting a PHD2 inhibitor might selectively target tumor vessels.

Working to keep a tumor well-supplied with a key nutrient like oxygen may seem counterintuitive, but such a therapy might also be an advantageous addition to existing treatment regimens, Carmeliet added, noting that chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation depend on adequate oxygen levels to work. Targeting PHD2 might also help to avoid a potential pitfall of anti-angiogenic drugs that attempt to "starve" tumors by pruning back their blood vessel supply. "You have to be careful," he said. "If you prune too many vessels, leaving tumors overly hypoxic, it may induce their resistance."


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Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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