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Developing a New Class
of Cancer Drugs
(Anti-Angiogenesis Drugs)

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 36 in the November 20, 2013 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Beauty, Medicine Matters.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

As time goes on, we begin to look at old problems in new ways. Cancer is one field that new ideas and evolving understanding continues to change the landscape. One of those concepts is angiogenesis. It refers to the growth of blood vessels within our bodies and what controls them.

There are many forms of blood vessels found around our body, but the most important ones are called capillaries. They not only carry the vital nourishment our tissues require but also are capable of transferring various molecules and gases into our tissues and removing waste molecules. Capillaries conform to the tissue they are found in. We have squiggly ones in muscle tissue and long slender ones with nerves. The number of capillaries that in one's body is astronomical but is maintained at a set point somehow. In the last dozen years, this fact has become in Cancer treatment.

Researchers have discovered that as we age, we develop microscopic cancers. The basic premise behind developing a new class of cancer drugs called Anti-Angiogenesis Drugs, is that if abnormal cells don't get nourishment, they don't grow. Cancers need a lot of nourishment and new capillary growth to expand. If you block angiogenesis, you can stop growth, and the cancer simply sits there.

This innovation has worked quite well in animal models and in Petri dishes. The problem becomes in trying to use these drugs when the cancers have already grown and spread. Success is less impressive. After genetics, the factors that influence cancer growth most seem to be diet, obesity, tobacco, and infections.

Changing diet alone could reduce up to one third of new cancers. It turns out that there are numerous substances in our food chain that can inhibit the growth of abnormal capillaries. Things such as tea, blueberries, strawberries, red grapes and tomatoes all seem to have substances capable of inhibiting blood vessel growth. It is a prevention strategy that is worth considering.

Anti-angiogenesis drugs are currently in use when treating kidney, colon and stomach cancers, but they are less effective when the cancer is large and has developed a good blood supply.

Related resources:

Angiogenesis Inhibitors. Fact sheet from National Cancer Institute. Key Points:
* Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. Tumors need blood vessels to grow and spread.
* Angiogenesis inhibitors are designed to prevent the formation of new blood vessels, thereby stopping or slowing the growth or spread of tumors.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several angiogenesis inhibitors for the treatment of cancer.
* Angiogenesis inhibitors may have side effects that are different from those of other cancer treatments. In addition, they may only stop or slow the growth of a cancer, not completely eradicate it.

Drugs that block cancer blood vessel growth (anti angiogenics) from Cancer Research UK.
What anti angiogenesis treatment is.
Types of anti angiogenesis treatment.
Side effects of anti angiogenesis treatment.
More information about anti angiogenesis drugs.

Anti-angiogenesis Treatment: The search for better cancer drugs from American Cancer Society. .
What is anti-angiogenesis treatment?
Angiogenesis is the process of making new blood vessels. The term comes from 2 Greek words: angio meaning blood vessel, and genesis meaning beginning.
Why do cells need blood to survive? Why do tumors need their own blood supply?
How anti-angiogenesis drugs work.
How anti-angiogenesis drugs differ from other cancer treatments. Side effects.
How anti-angiogenesis drugs are used today.
The future of anti-angiogenesis treatment.
Overview of anti-angiogenic drugs in cancer. From Molecular mechanisms and clinical applications of angiogenesis by Peter Carmeliet and Rakesh K. Jain, Nature - International weekly journal of science.

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