Health Watch - Cancer Research: Blood Vessels

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


Cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be, thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment. But the fight isn’t won, and research into fighting cancer continues. This week on Health Watch, we’ll talk about some recent discoveries. One way to attack cancer is to cut off its blood supply.

When tumors form, the body creates new blood vessels for them, which supplies the blood cancer cells need for their rapid growth. The cancer then uses these blood vessels to send cancer cells throughout the body, spreading the cancer. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a protein that’s essential to the formation of new blood vessels. This protein is found only in the cells lining blood vessels. Dr. Ondine Cleaver, a UT Southwestern molecular biologist, says a drug that blocks the action of this protein could starve cancer cells and block their access to the rest of the body. Researchers are now looking for drugs that might work this way.

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July 2011

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