An extensively studied protein has now been found to inhibit tumor growth and slow the development of new blood vessels for cancers to metastasize in a new study.
The creation of new blood vessels, or angiogenesis, is a vital part of cancer growth and metastasis. Blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen, which tumors need to survive, expand, and migrate to other parts of the body. A family of proteins called vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are behind the process of angiogenesis, and one particular protein, VEGF-A, is the principal driver in the process.
However, a research team led by Paul Fox, Ph.D., of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, has discovered that a variant of VEGF-A, one they call VEGF-Ax, actually decreases angiogenesis, cutting off the blood supply to tumors and inhibiting their development in animal models.
VEGF-Ax is 22 amino acids longer that VEGF-A, and is formed when the ribosome—the cellular machinery that translates genes (actually messenger RNAs) into proteins—reads through its genetic stop sign in a process called programmed translational readthrough.