Malignant cells secrete vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that then binds to specific receptors on endothelial cells to induce tumor angiogenesis. In September 15 Blood, Rizwan Masood and colleagues from Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California show that VEGF has an additional role in tumor development because it is also a direct growth factor for many tumor cells.

Working on tumor cell lines in vitro, Masood et al. found that several tumor types (Kaposi's sarcomas, melanomas, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate carcinomas) express VEGF receptors (VEGFRs). Inhibition of VEGF with VEGF antisense oligonucleotide AS-3 or with neutralizing antibodies to VEGFRs resulted in inhibited proliferation of these cell lines. In addition, this effect was abrogated by VEGF (Blood 2001, 98:1904-1913).

The finding that VEGF works directly on tumor cells that display its receptor may allow clinicians to predict whether using a VEGF inhibitor as...

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