UCSF-Harvard Team Reports Encouraging Results In Drug Study Of Mice With Cancer

Researchers report that four drugs thought to disrupt the formation of blood vessels that fuel tumor growth have been shown for the first time to be effective at treating spontaneous tumors at distinct stages of progression in mice.

The study, reported in the April 30 issue of Science, provides evidence that these drugs, so-called angiogenesis inhibitors, can act against tumors in a mouse model that more closely resembles the conditions of human tumor development than the models previously used.

It also provides the first indication that the drugs vary in their efficacy depending on the stage of cancer targeted - drugs showed encouraging results when used to treat distinct stages of tumor development, including premalignancy. The model could therefore provide a platform for exploring the potential of perhaps even more effective angiogenesis inhibitors, or combinations of inhibitors, not just for the treatment of cancer, but for prevention, the researchers said.

"We've shown that these drugs have beneficial effects when used to treat mice developing organ-specific cancer in which tumors arise from premalignant lesions in their natural tissue microenvironment, representing an important extension of the evidence for efficacy of angiogenesis inhibition in cancer," said the senior author of the study, Douglas Hanahan, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at UCSF.

Many angiogenesis inhibitors are currently being investigated in laboratories around the world. If the results continue to be encouraging, said the lead author of the study, Gabriele Bergers, Ph.D., a visiting postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the Hormone Research Institute at UC San Francisco, "the strategy will be to determine which anti-angiogenesis compounds are most effective at which stage of cancer in mouse models, and to develop dosing regimens that are fine-tuned to target these specific stages of disease progression."

The ultimate question,

Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
University of California - San Francisco

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