Malignant tumours are angiogenesis-dependent diseases. Several experimental studies suggest that primary tumour growth, invasiveness and metastasis require neovascularisation. Tumour-associated angiogenesis is a complex multistep process under the control of positive and negative soluble factors. A mutual stimulation occurs between tumour and endothelial cells by paracrine mechanisms. Angiogenesis is necessary, but not sufficient, as the single event for tumour growth. There is, however, compelling evidence that acquisition of the angiogenic phenotype is a common pathway for tumour progression, and that active angiogenesis is associated with other molecular mechanisms leading to tumour progression. Experimental research suggests that it is possible to block angiogenesis by specific inhibitory agents, and that modulation of angiogenic activity is associated with tumour regression in animals with different types of neoplasia. The more promising angiosuppressive agents for clinical testing are: naturally occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis (angiostatin, endostatin, platelet factor-4, and others), specific inhibitors of endothelial cell growth (TNP-470, thalidomide, interleukin-12 and others), agents neutralising angiogenic peptides (antibodies to fibroblast growth factor or vascular endothelial growth factor, suramin and analogues, tecogalan and others) or their receptors, agents that interfere with vascular basement membrane and extracellular matrix [metalloprotease (MMP) inhibitors, angiostatic steroids and others], antiadhesion molecules antibodies such as anti-integrin α(v)β3, and miscellaneous drugs that modulate angiogenesis by diverse mechanisms of action. Antiangiogenic therapy is to be distinguished from vascular targeting. Gene therapy aimed to block neovascularisation is also a feasible anticancer strategy in animals bearing experimental tumours. Antiangiogenic therapy represents one of the more promising new approaches to anticancer therapy and it is already in early clinical trials. Because angiosuppressive therapy is aimed at blocking tumour growth indirectly, through modulation of neovascularisation, antiangiogenic agents need to be developed and evaluated as biological response modifiers. Therefore, adequate and well designed clinical trials should be performed for a proper evaluation of antiangiogenic agents, by determination and monitoring of surrogate markers of angiogenic activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis