Endogenous angiogenesis inhibitors

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Abstract

When the FDA commissioner announced in February 2004 the approval of Avastin for the treatment of patients with colon cancer, he called angiogenesis inhibitors a fourth modality of anti-cancer therapy. Because angiogenesis inhibitors are relatively less toxic than conventional chemotherapy and have a lower risk of drug resistance, they may also represent a new class of anti-cancer agents, some of which have sufficiently reduced toxicity that they may be safely used long term. These include immunotherapy, vaccines, telomerase inhibitors, apoptosis inducers, low dose metronomic chemotherapy, novel hormonal therapies, gene therapy and others. However, at least 16 endogenous angiogenesis inhibitors have been discovered in the circulation, and/or in the extracellular matrix. These may become the safest and least toxic of anti-cancer therapies. Four are already being administered by injection in clinical trials for cancer. Recently, it has been reported that at least two endogenous angiogenesis inhibitors can be significantly increased in humans (endostatin), and in mice (thrombospondin), by oral administration of small molecules which themselves are already FDA approved for other uses. This finding suggests several new clinical applications for the future, including the possibility of guiding the use of angiogenesis inhibitors by blood or urinary biomarkers, currently being developed, that may detect the presence of cancer before it is symptomatic, or before it can be located by conventional methods.

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