Blocking and promoting angiogenesis--the development of blood vessels--is a rapidly advancing strategy that offers opportunities to treat a spectrum of diseases.

The strategy views blood vessel growth and inhibition as the linchpin in certain diseases. Stopping the growth of blood vessels from tumors, for instance, means there is no highway for metastasis, the spread of cancer from its primary site. On the other hand, increasing blood vessel growth can help ischemic, or blood-starved, hearts.

"Almost everyone you talk to has one particular goal: The cardiologists want to make new blood vessels, the allergists want to stop inflammation, the cancer specialists want to stop cancers, the dermatologists want to increase blood flow to get better skin tone and to decrease it in psoriasis," observes Robert Auerbach, a professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

In adults, the network of blood vessels is stable. Normal angiogenesis occurs during the...

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