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Targeting cancer vasculature

European scientists identified molecules specific for the tumour vasculature that could be used in novel anticancer strategies.
Targeting cancer vasculature
Angiogenesis – the formation of new vessels – is a critical factor in the progression of cancer. As a result, many angiostatic compounds that interfere with this process are used in cancer management, with, however, limited efficacy. Most of these drugs work as antagonists to tumour-produced growth factors and often lead to drug resistance, thereby necessitating alternative strategies that target directly the tumour vasculature.

The scope of the EU-funded RESTART (Refined screening for novel targets in the tumor vasculature) project was to identify vasculature markers that could be targeted therapeutically in cancer. For this purpose, researchers performed sequencing in primary prostate carcinoma and its metastases, and screened the differentially expressed genes against angiogenesis-related and tumour endothelium factors. Importantly, the selected genes had to be absent from a healthy tissue transcriptome.

Fourteen markers were found to be specific of tumour endothelial cells and were validated through loss- and gain-of-function assays. Among the targets was PR-1, the growth factor receptor, which binds the PR-1 ligand. Project findings suggested that PR-1 was an attractive target for anti-angiogenic targeting of a broad array of solid tumours.

Overall, the RESTART project demonstrated that it is possible to identify specific tumour endothelial markers of potential therapeutic value in the clinic. The consortium envisages the implementation of these molecules into a vascular targeting strategy that could lead to the specific and effective treatment of cancer.

Related information


Cancer, vasculature, tumour, angiogenesis, endothelium, PR1
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