Dr. John Cleveland and colleagues at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered that c-Myc is essential for tumor development, as it regulates factors necessary for the growth of blood vessels into tumors lending a new potential target to anti-angiogenic cancer therapies.
The myc family of oncogenes (c-myc, N-myc, and L-myc) function in the control of cell proliferation, differentiation, and tumorigenesis. Although it has long been recognized that c-Myc's positive effect on cell proliferation can contribute to cancer development, scientists have also suspected that c-Myc has additional roles in the progression of malignancy. Dr. Cleveland and colleagues have discovered such a role: c-Myc is essential for tumor angiogenesis.
Growing tumors need oxygen and nutrients to survive. Once a tumor's demand for oxygen and nutrients exceeds what the existing vasculature can provide, a new vascular network is established (vasculogenesis) and capillaries are formed (angiogenesis) to meet the tumor's increasing needs. Since the late nineties, when the first anti-angiogenic drugs entered clinical trials, much interest has centered upon the therapeutic approach to thwart a tumor's growth by cutting off its blood supply. By showing that c-Myc is essential for promoting vasculo- and angiogenesis, Dr. Cleveland and colleagues have uncovered another possible route in this anti-angiogenic strategy.
"The goal of this study was to determine the role of c-Myc in development. These studies established that c-Myc is essential for the formation of the vasculature that distributes blood throughout the organism, and that it did so by functioning as a master regulator of factors that are necessary for the growth of blood vessels and capillaries. The surprising
Contact: Heather Cosel
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory