Tumours require blood to emerge and spread. That is why scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center believe that targeting blood vessel cells known as pericytes may offer a potential new therapeutic approach when combined with vascular growth factors responsible for cell death.
A study from MD Anderson, Beth Israel Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne looked at how cellular signaling by vascular growth factors called angiopoietin-2 (ANG2), when combined with depletion of pericytes, may decrease breast cancer tumour growth that spreads to the lungs. Targeting pericytes and ANG2 signaling may also offer new potential therapy options for treatment of some breast cancers. The opensource study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
The current study showed that angipoietin signaling is a key metastasis promoting pathway associated with abnormal tumour blood vessels with poor pericytes coverage. When combined with pericyte loss during the late phases of tumour progression, it is possible to reduce both primary tumour growth and metastatic disease.
Previous strategies to target how tumours develop blood supplies have looked at pericyte depletion. Pericytes, cells that wrap around capillary cells throughout the body, have the ability to contract, thus regulating blood flow. Since angiopoietins are blood vessel growth factors that provide the green light for new arteries or veins to grow, the combination of the two is of interest to cancer researchers.
The team state that targeting of ANG2 signaling in tumours with abnormal blood vessels with low pericyte coverage appeared to restore vascular stability and decreased tumour growth and metastasis in lung cancer mouse models. The team also found that ANG2 was tied to poor outcome in patients with breast cancer. These results emphasize the potential for therapies targeting in advanced tumours with poor quality blood vessels.
Source: MD Anderson