Napoleone Ferrara and the saga of vascular endothelial growth factor

Domenico Ribatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Napoleone Ferrara and his colleagues at Genentech were the first to isolate and clone vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in 1989. His laboratory has investigated many aspects of VEGF biochemistry and molecular biology. In 1993, Ferrara reported that inhibition of VEGF-induced angiogenesis by specific monoclonal antibodies resulted in dramatic suppression of the growth of a variety of tumors in vivo. These findings provided an important evidence that inhibition of angiogenesis may suppress tumor growth and blocking VEGF action could have therapeutic value for a variety of malignancies and validate the notion introduced in 1971 by Judah Folkman that inhibition of tumor angiogenesis might be a valid approach to control tumor growth. A further development was the design in a rational fashion in 1997 of a humanized anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody (Avastin), now in clinical trials as a treatment for several solid tumors and also outside of cancer, for example, in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalEndothelium: Journal of Endothelial Cell Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Angiogenesis
  • History Of Medicine
  • Tumor Growth
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor/Vascular Permeability Factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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