David Cheresh, a well known researcher from UCSD, gave a lecture here at UNC today. In a somewhat unusual departure from my normal habit, I actually attended and took notes.

If you're curious, the title was "A Role for VEFG as a Negative Regulator of Pericyte
Function and Blood Vessel Maturation."

Both VEGF and PDGF are angiogenesis stimulators, and as you'd expect, both increase the growth rate of cancer tumors. What you might not expect is that if VEGF and PDGF are administered together, in tumors with receptors for both peptides, the blood vessels in the tumors regress. That is, the growth factors separately improve neovascularization but together, where you'd expect some synergy, instead they suppress neovascularization. Weird.

What I found interesting is the clinical application of this research. You see, tumors tend to support their rapid growth by secreting a butt load of VEGF, which increases angiogenesis; however it does so in a pell-mell fashion which leads to a lot of twisted vessels. Vessels which are prone to leaking. Administering PDGF to a patient will suppress some of the VEGF affect (referred to as normalizing the response). While one would think that would be bad for the patient, since the tumor would thereupon have a better blood supply, actually it benefits patient outcome. This is due to the tumor being more open for chemotherapy. That is, the slight benefit to the tumor of having better blood vessels is more than offset by the tumor being more vulnerable to chemotherapy 'cause the drugs can get into the tumor easier.

The mechanism revolves around how VEGF and PDGF affect pericyte growth but I had to leave the lecture 15 minutes early so I didn't hear that part.


GA Girl said…
What if the tumor's resistant to chemotherapy?
When y'all are finished finding a cure for cancer, will you work on MS next?
Cynnie said…
I'm nodding and acting like I know what you're saying :)
tiff said…
I miss oncology research! Wah!

WHo'd have thought that administering the two together would result in a negative affect? Fascinating.
Omykiss said…
You are lucky to be in a place where you get to listen to such talks ... we are a bit isolated way out here in New Zealand so such opportunities are rare .... :(

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