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Study identifies another strategy for normalizing tumor blood supply
Date:2/20/2008

Manipulating levels of nitric oxide (NO), a gas involved in many biological processes, may improve the disorganized network of blood vessels supplying tumors, potentially improving the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy. In an upcoming issue of the journal Nature Medicine, researchers from the Steele Laboratory of Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report an experiment in which NO production was selectively suppressed in tumor cells while being maintained in blood vessels. The result was a significant improvement in the appearance and function of the tumors blood supply.

Our finding suggest that the creation of perivascular NO gradients differences between the levels produced in blood vessels and those found in tumor tissue may be able to normalize tumor vasculature, says Dai Fukumura, MD, PhD, of the Steele Laboratory, who led the study. Combining the use of angiogenesis inhibitors, which normalize vasculature through a different mechanism, with the blockade of nonvascular NO production may produce even greater improvement in therapeutic outcomes.

The blood vessels that develop around and within tumors are leaky and disorganized, interfering with delivery of chemotherapy drugs and with radiation treatment, which requires an adequate oxygen supply. Combining angiogenesis inhibitors, drugs that suppress the growth of blood vessels, with traditional anticancer therapies has improved patient survival in some tumors. That success supports a theory developed by Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the Steele Laboratory, that the agents temporarily normalize blood vessels, creating a period during which other treatments can be more effective.

Since angiogenesis is one of many physiologic activities mediated by NO, the MGH research team hypothesized that restricting NO production to blood vessels also could improve tumor vasculature. Using cancer cells from human brain tumors, they suppressed the enzyme
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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