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Oncologist. 2004;9 Suppl 1:2-10.

Vascular endothelial growth factor as a target for anticancer therapy.

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  • 1Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


The development of a vascular supply is a critical factor in the growth and metastatic spread of malignant tumors. Of the multitude of growth factors that regulate physiological and pathological angiogenesis, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is believed to be the most important. There is evidence that overexpression of VEGF is correlated with an adverse prognosis, at least in some tumors. Tumor-expressed VEGF is particularly attractive as a target for anticancer therapy because its angiogenesis-promoting activity is at the level of the endothelial cell and, compared with agents that directly target tumor cells, tumor penetration is less critical for VEGF inhibitors. Moreover, recent work has shown that inhibiting tumor angiogenesis increases the effectiveness of coadministered chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This suggests that drugs that target VEGF or its receptors can be combined with traditional treatment modalities to ensure maximum effectiveness. A variety of agents aimed at blocking VEGF or its receptor-signaling system are currently being developed for the treatment of cancer. Of these, bevacizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody directed at VEGF, is the most advanced in clinical development and has shown promising results in clinical trials.

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