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Research from Children's Hospital Boston suggests that a urine test can help in both monitoring and predicting // vascular anomalies. The study also raises the possibility of treating these with anti-angiogenesis drugs

The July issue of the journal - Pediatrics, has published an article about vascular anomalies in children. Vascular anomalies can be found in about 10% of newly born infants and include both vascular malformations and vascular tumors.

These occur when the cells lining blood vessels multiply abnormally, forming clusters of vessels and then they are also called – Hemangiomas. They can grow rapidly in the first year of life, then usually shrink and disappear. But some grow quite large, causing obstruction, ulceration and other problems.

Marsha Moses, PhD of Children's Vascular Biology Program, senior investigator on the study, had been studying the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a family of enzymes required for angiogenesis, or growth of new blood vessels.

Angiogenesis is also critical to a cancer's expansion, and Moses' lab was the first to show that inhibitors of MMP can inhibit angiogenesis. Recently, her lab also demonstrated that cancer patients have elevated levels of MMPs in their urine. Because vascular anomalies like hemangiomas also involve angiogenesis.

Moses, Marler and colleagues tested the urine of 217 patients with vascular anomalies and 74 healthy controls of the same age and tested it for MMP . A subgroup of MMPs – known as the high-molecular-weight MMPs – were elevated in the urine of 53 percent of patients with vascular tumors and 41 percent of those with vascular malformations, but in only 22 percent of controls.

Vascular anomalies were also associated with elevated urine levels of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), another compound that promotes angiogenesis. Increased urine levels of MMPs and bFGF correlated with both the extent and progression
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