A recent study has revealed that blocking the growth of blood vessels with antibodies may aid better treatment of cancerous tumors.
The growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vasculature is called angiogenesis.
In adults, angiogenesis occurs only during wound healing and menstrual cycling, but is abundant and harmful in cancerous tumors and the old-age eye disease frequently leading to blindness called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Without the formation of new blood vessels, tumors cannot grow beyond a small size due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. Inhibition of angiogenesis is used in the treatment of cancer and AMD, but not all cancer patients respond, while others become refractory to therapy.
Academy professor Kari Alitalo and co-workers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, have previously shown that antibodies directed towards vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-3 can inhibit lymphatic metastasis by 50-70 percent in pre-clinical tumor models.
The novel type of VEGFR-3 blocking antibody has an unprecedented mechanism of action, which was effective even at very high concentrations of the VEGF-C growth factor.
Importantly, the authors showed that combined use of antibodies blocking growth factor binding VEGFR-3 dimerization provided not only an additive, but also a synergistic inhibition.
"The new dimerization inhibitor unveils a biologically meaningful rationale for suppressing angiogenesis in tumors that could outperform traditional competitive inhibitors of angiogenesis in tumor therapy. These findings should translate into improved anti-angiogenic and anti-lymphangiogenic tumor therapies", said Professor Alitalo.