Scientists have identified a growth factor that triggers blood vessel formation within the endocrine glands. In California, Dr. Jennifer of Genentech Inc. and colleagues reported their discovery of endocrine gland-derived vascular endothelial growth factor, or EG-VEGF. The finding could lead the way toward treatment for illnesses affecting these glands. The endocrine glands produce various hormones such as ovaries, testicles, pancreas, pituitary and thyroid.
Scientists have known for several years, that a specific protein called VEGF triggers new blood vessel growth throughout the body. This has been investigated as a treatment for heart disease. Since tumors need new blood vessels in to grow, they have also sought to fight cancer by blocking VEGF's action.
Unlike VEGF, the researchers also found that EG-VEGF only acts on cells that line the capillaries of the endocrine glands.
According to Dr.Napoleone Ferrara, one of the study authors, they believe that EG-VEGF was implicated in the pathogenesis of some ovarian disorders resulting in infertility, such as the polycystic ovary syndrome and an inhibitor of EG-VEGF may have therapeutic value in this condition.
He also added that the discovery also raises the possibility that other growth factors exist that act on specific tissues, such as the heart or lung or skeletal muscle, which could hold "considerable therapeutic potential.