Growth factor identified as possible cancer drug target
Scientists at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center report finding a new angiogenesis protein, SFRP2, found in the blood vessels of numerous tumour sites, including breast, prostate, lung, pancreas, ovarian, colon, kidney tumours, and angiosarcomas.
The scientists found that SFRP2 is a potent stimulator of angiogenesis. This protein may be a favourable target for inhibiting angiogenesis which would then "starve" the tumour of its blood supply, thus destroying the cancer.
"The discovery that SFRP2 stimulates angiogenesis and is present in blood vessels of a wide variety of tumours provides us with a new target for drug design," said Nancy Klauber-DeMore, MD, senior author. The study was published online in the journal Cancer Research. Klauber-DeMore is associate professor of surgery and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Based on the UNC-led team’s understanding of how this protein works in the blood vessels, scientists successfully utilised a drug, tacrolimus, which is commonly used to prevent organ transplant rejection, to inhibit the growth of angiosarcoma in pre-clinical studies. Angiosarcoma is a highly aggressive cancer that begins in the cells lining the blood or lymph vessels for which options for therapy are limited.
(Source: University of North Carolina: Cancer Research: June 2009)