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Understanding angiogenesis process is crucial for modern medicine

Understanding angiogenesis process is crucial for modern medicine

Publish date: 2014-12-22

Angiogenesis, comprising a growth of blood vessels, is indispensable for proper organ functioning and repair. Abnormalities occurring in this crucial process are involved in various disorders such as cancer. Understanding its molecular background is the basis for the development of novel efficient drugs.

Tags: medicine , cancer , angiogenesis , Yihai Cao , blood vessel , metabolism , obesity

Angiogenesis is engaged in various physiological processes in which formation of new blood vessels is necessary just to mention wound healing or placenta formation during pregnancy. However, when the process is not regulated properly, it can contribute to serious medical consequences like cancer metastasis. The development of novel agents capable of switching “on” or “off” the formation of blood vessels is a great hope for treatment of various diseases.

Investigation of angiogenesis process began many years ago. The first important hypothesis was announced in 1971 by Dr. Judah Folkman, who is considered to be “the father of angiogenesis”. He stated that angiogenesis was an important factor involved in malignant tumor growth. After initial strong opposition of the scientific community, eventually the hypothesis was considered to be true. Since this time, a significant  progress in the field of “angiogenesis-regulating drugs” has been made.

Apart from cancer, inappropriate growth of blood vessels, either excessive or insufficient, is responsible for numerous disorders such as skin diseases, age-related blindness or cardiovascular disease. By focusing on the molecular events underlying the process of angiogenesis, it is possible to recognize proteins that act as stimulators or inhibitors of blood vessel formation. Professor Yihai Cao from the University of Leicester, who is a specialist in the area of vascular biology, presents the areas where drugs restoring proper angiogenic processes are already used.

Knowledge about angiogenesis is also necessary for elaboration of novel ways of treating obesity and associated metabolic disorders as the current approaches are highly insufficient. Recent findings strongly suggest that molecular factors modulating angiogenesis process influence the outgrowth and metabolism of adipose tissue. Professor Yihai Cao explains the mechanism of fatty cell expansion and a research that he performed on obese mice with the application of angiogenic inhibitor.

As it can be seen, unravelling the molecular events underlying pathological blood vessel growth is essential for modern medicine to provide real therapeutic options in a wide variety of diseases such as cancer or metabolic disorders associated with obesity.


Maciej Smolarz


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