Vascular endothelial growth factors signal the development of tumour-induced lymph vessel growth and enhance lymphatic metastasis in vivo.

A poorly understood characteristic of cancerous tissue is its ability to develop lymphatic tissue by the process of lymphangiogenesis. This is an important consideration because this contributes to the cancer's ability to metastasise through the body. In the February Nature Medicine, three separate research groups provide direct evidence that two recently cloned members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family, VEGF-C and VEGF-D, are important regulators of lymphangiogenesis in vivo and enhance lymphatic metastasis.

Steven Stacker and colleagues at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Australia demonstrate that a molecule that attaches to the VEGFR-3 receptor, called VEGF-D, induces both angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. It also leads to the spread of cancerous cells to lymph nodes, a process that can be blocked by treatment with an antibody to VEGF-D (Nat...

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