Tumor cells are difficult to target using immunotherapy but the vascular endothelial cells of the tumor vessels represent a much more stable immune target through their expression of growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2, also known as FLK-1). In November 4 Nature Medicine, Andreas Niethammer and colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA, show that a DNA vaccine against VEGF receptor 2 effectively blocks tumor angiogenesis and inhibits tumor growth (Nature Medicine, doi:10.1038/nm794, November 4, 2002).

Niethammer et al. tested a novel oral DNA vaccine that targets the upregulated FLK-1 present in proliferating endothelial cells in the tumor vasculature. They observed that this vaccine effectively protected mice from lethal challenges with melanoma, colon carcinoma and lung carcinoma cells and reduced growth of established metastases. In addition, they showed that angiogenesis in the tumor vasculature was suppressed without impairment to fertility, neuromuscular performance or hematopoiesis,...

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