Novel Biological Interaction Found To Explain Blood Vessel Growth To Tumors

rotein as a drug to stop tumor angiogenesis, as efforts are now underway to do, it may be possible to design a small molecule that will do what angiostatin does -- turn off ATPsynthase," Moser said.

Pizzo added that, in the future, it may be possible to find a molecule that turns on ATPsynthase "in cases where you want new blood vessel growth, such as in heart disease."

Because she led the laboratory investigation, Moser checked, rechecked and expanded her findings over a span of several years to be sure of the conclusions. "A lot of labs might have pulled out and said it was a mistake, but it seemed a very rational explanation worthy of replication," she said.

The discovery is very important because "the ATPsynthase-binding protein may be used as a target to find small molecules, which could mimic angiostatin, but could be taken orally, and perhaps would be easier to manufacture," according to Dr. Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston who pioneered angiostatin research. "If such small molecules are developed, they may also enhance the activity of angiostatin."

Folkman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was the scientist who submitted the paper to PNAS, the academy's journal, although he didn't participate in the research.

Working with Pizzo and Moser on the study were Duke researchers Iain Asplin, Jan Enghild and Lorraine Everitt. Their collaborators include Danish researcher Peter Hojrup, and, from Northwestern University Medical School, Sharon Stack, Susan Hubchak and William Schnaper. The study was supported by a research grant from Glaxo Wellcome Inc. Duke University holds the patent rights to the discovery.

The field of angiostatin research grew from the observation that some, but not all, tumors seem to be able to control the spread, or metastasis, of cancer elsewhere in the body.

Cancer physicians have long known that sometimes, when a single large tumor is removed from a patient, subseq

Contact: Renee Twombly
Duke University Medical Center

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