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Jefferson scientists find blood vessel-building protein halts blood vessels from forming in cancer

(PHILADELPHIA) A piece of the protein cellular scaffolding involved in building blood vessels during development might have the opposite effect in tumors.

Cell biologists at Jefferson Medical College and the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have found that the protein fragment endorepellin blocks both skin and lung cancer tumors from progressing in animal models by preventing their ability to recruit new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. They showed that endorepellin has surprisingly powerful effects on halting a cancer tumor's ability to move about and spread.

The researchers believe that these latest findings, appearing November 15, 2006 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, could lead to a new type of tumor inhibitor that might be used to prevent cancer from spreading to other areas in the body.

The researchers, led by Renato Iozzo, M.D., professor of pathology, anatomy and cell biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, used two animal models of cancer to study squamous cell carcinoma and lung carcinoma. When they injected animals with artificially created "recombinant" endorepellin, they discovered that it blocked tumor growth, metabolism and angiogenesis. They also found for the first time that endorepellin targets the tumor endothelial cells, blocking the creation of new blood vessels.

"These findings have major implications for cancer treatments for a range of solid tumors such as lung, prostate and breast," Dr. Iozzo says. "All of these tumors depend on angiogenesis, so we think this could be an effective adjuvant therapy for cancer."

Endorepellin is part of the protein perlecan, which plays fundamental roles in vascular biology as scaffolding for blood vessel formation in development. In cancer, perlecan not only regulates growth factor activity, but also is a barrier to invading cancer cells.


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Contact: Steve Benowitz
steven.benowitz@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
14-Nov-2006


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