A new and better understanding of blood vessel growth and vascular development (angiogenesis) in cancer has been made possible by research carried out by a team of scientists from the Moffitt Cancer Center, the University of Florida, Harvard University, Yale University, and the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. The research team published the results of its investigation in the September 13, 2011 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Vascular development is a fundamental biological process that is tightly controlled by both pro-and anti-angiogenic mechanisms," said Dr. Edward Seto, a co-author of the study and professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular Oncology at Moffitt. "Physiological angiogenesis occurs in adults only under specific settings. Excess angiogenesis contributes to a variety of diseases, including cancer. In cancer, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is commonly overproduced." The goal of the research was to determine how angiogenesis is regulated by positive and negative biological activities. "Understanding the biological principles that direct vascular growth has important clinical implications because cancers are highly vascularized," concluded Dr. Seto. This meant seeking a better understanding of the relationship between the chromatin insulator binding factor CTCF and how it regulates VEGF expression. "At the heart of vascular development is VEGF which, in precise doses, is an important stimulator of normal blood vessel growth," explained Dr. Seto. "However, VEGF - probably the most important stimulator of normal and pathological blood vessel growth - is regulated by a number of factors." According to Dr. Seto, the study suggests that CTCF can block VEGF from being activated.
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