Folkman: Pioneer in War on Cancer and Blindness Dies at 74

Friday, January 18, 2008 General News J E 4
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Jan. 17 Dr. Judah Folkman, agiant in U.S. cancer and eye disease research, died on Tuesday, Jan. 15, froman apparent heart attack. According to Dr. Robert Morris, president of theHelen Keller Foundation for Research and Education, "his discoveries havealready become a successful and revolutionary treatment for age-relatedmacular degeneration, the leading cause of new blindness in people over 65years of age." Folkman's work founded an entire branch of cancer researchcalled anti-angiogenesis therapy that also led to major medical advancementsand treatments for eye diseases, but particularly age-related maculardegeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Folkman was the 2006 recipient of the Helen Keller Prize for VisionResearch. His 1971 hypothesis that solid tumors are angiogenesis-dependentinitiated studies of angiogenesis in tumor biology and a year later expandedthis to suggest that anti-angiogenic therapy could be useful in a number ofnon-neoplastic diseases, including eye disease. This thought-provokinghypothesis lead researchers to the discovery of the first angiogenic inhibitorfor AMD, which was a major milestone in ophthalmology and laid the groundworkfor the creation of new drug treatment therapies for eye disease that includeMacugen, Avastin, Lucentis and the promising VEGF-TRAP.

The Helen Keller Prize, awarded by the Helen Keller Foundation ForResearch and Education, honors physicians and scientists worldwide in theirefforts to end blindness. Thanks to Dr. Folkman's 36 years of research, over1.2 million patients worldwide are now receiving anti-angiogenic therapy fordiseases that include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cancer,arthritis, as well as diseases of the heart and skin. Because of Dr.Folkman's vision, 10 new cancer drugs are currently on the market and peoplewho might otherwise be blind have a chance at sight.

A transcript of Dr. Judah Folkman's acceptance speech for the 2006 HelenKeller Prize is available online at


The Helen Keller Foundation continues the work to which its namesakededicated her life. The Foundation strives to prevent blindness and deafnessby advancing research and education. The Foundation aspires to be a leader inintegrating sight, speech and hearing research with the greater biomedicalresearch community, creating and coordinating a peer-reviewed, worldwidenetwork of investigators and institutions. For more information on the HelenKeller Foundation, go to or view our recentmultimedia release at: Information: Judy Ault White Sky PR 205-613-6761, wireless Robert Morris, M.D. Helen Keller Foundation 205-492-6788, wireless

SOURCE The Helen Keller Foundation


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