Extensive research has demonstrated that tumor blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to cancer cells and also provide access to other organs.
While tumor vasculature shares many features with normal vessels, their unique characteristics are potential therapeutic targets. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation
identifies a tumor vessel-specific protein, L1 that can be targeted to reduce tumor growth.
Using a mouse pancreatic cancer model, Ugo Cavallaro and colleagues at the European Institute of Oncology found that loss of L1 reduced tumor blood vessel formation, which inhibited growth and metastasis. In patients with pancreatic cancer, L1 was present within tumor blood vessels and not in vessels of healthy tissue. The results from this study suggest that targeting L1 has potential as a cancer-limiting strategy.