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[IP] kidney molecule could fight cancer
May be of interest ?
Sunday, 14 July, 2002, 23:55 GMT 00:55 UK
*Kidney molecule could fight cancer*
VEGF is implicated in all kinds of cancers
British scientists have stumbled on a molecule which could turn out to
be the body's secret weapon against cancer.
The protein, found in the kidney, can starve tumours by blocking their
Researchers believe it may be effective against a wide range of cancers,
as well as other conditions such as artery disease and diabetes.
It could also lead to the design of new anti-cancer drugs.
We are very excited about this - theoretically it could apply to any cancer
Researcher Dr Dave Bates
The molecule is a special form of a protein called VEGF.
VEGF promotes angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels which feed
tumours and are vital to their survival.
Usually it is only seen in diseased tissue. But it also occurs in
normal, healthy kidneys, where it does not seem to generate tumours.
Scientists led by Dr Dave Bates and Dr Steve Harper at the University of
Bristol wanted to find out why.
Their research led them to discover a different form of VEGF, called
VEGF 165b, which inhibits the original and prevents the growth of blood
vessels in the kidney.
Dr Bates, whose work is published in the journal Cancer Research, said:
"We are very excited about this. Theoretically it could apply to any
cancer. Every cancer known uses VEGF to make new blood vessels."
The researchers said that in the kidney, an unknown process appeared to
convert VEGF from one form to another.
When it switched from the 165b form to the dangerous type of VEGF, the
conditions were right for the development of cancer.
Learning what caused the switch could lead to the design of new drugs,
said Dr Bates.
"If you can find a drug that can switch it back, you'll stop blood
vessel growth," he said.
In the meantime he hoped VEGF 165b itself would prove a useful, natural
The team is currently engaged in a study of the effect of the protein on
They believe the protein could also combat the development of breast and
lung cancer and even leukaemia.
In addition it is likely to help in the treatment of atherosclerosis -
narrowing of the arteries - and diabetes, where VEGF also plays a role.
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