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Angiogenesis Inhibitors in the Treatment of Mesothelioma

Angiogenesis means the formation of new blood vessels. Angiogenesis is a physiological process in which cells to repair damaged blood vessels or form new ones. The body also produces chemicals, called angiogenesis inhibitors, to stop the process.

Although a part of normal healthy bodily functioning, angiogenesis also plays a role in the spread of cancer. Tumors cannot grow without oxygen and nutrients delivered to the cancer cells by blood vessels.

Scientists figure that if they can stop the formation of new blood vessels, they can stop the growth of tumors. They are studying natural and synthetic angiogenesis inhibitors in the hope that these chemicals will prevent the growth of cancer by blocking the formation of new blood vessels. In animal studies, angiogenesis inhibitors have successfully stopped the formation of new blood vessels in tumors.

Angiogenesis Inhibitors

Angiogenesis inhibitors, also called antiangiogenesis drugs, are a bunch of relatively new compounds of medical interest. They block the development of new blood vessels and thereby prevent solid tumors from growing. With no blood vessels, the cancer cells cannot get are unable to grow beyond the size of a pinhead without the formation of new blood vessels to supply the nutritional needs of the tumor. By blocking the development of new blood vessels, the inhibitor cuts off the tumor’s supply of oxygen and nutrients, halting its continued growth and possible spread to other parts of the body.

Standard chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cells that divide rapidly. While these drugs kill cancer cells, they also damage other cells which divide quickly such as those in the bone marrow, the skin, the mouth, and the intestines. Because chemotherapy drugs are so toxic, they are usually given in cycles, which include days or sometimes even weeks without treatment. This allows the patient’s normal cells to recover before beginning another round of treatment. The antiangiogenesis drugs are not toxic to most healthy cells, so they can be given without interruption. This may help these drugs be more effective in the treatment of cancer.

Various angiogenesis inhibitors are currently being evaluated in clinical trials (research studies in humans). These studies include patients with cancers of the breast, prostate, brain, pancreas, lung, stomach, ovary, and cervix; some leukemias and lymphomas; and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. If the results of clinical trials show that angiogenesis inhibitors are both safe and effective in treating cancer in humans, these agents may be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and made available for widespread use.

Antiangiogenesis drugs currently in of interest for mesothelioma include bevacizumab (Avastin), and SU-5416.

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