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Medicina (B Aires). 2000;60 Suppl 2:41-7.

Inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as a novel approach for cancer therapy.

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Oncology Research, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland.


Of the numerous growth factors and cytokines that have been shown to have angiogenic effects, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), also known as vascular permeability factor (VPF), appears to be a key factor in pathological situations which involve neovascularization as well as enhanced vascular permeability. Our aim was to design a low molecular weight synthetic molecule that potently and selectively blocks the VEGF/VEGF receptor system after oral administration, suitable for the chronic therapy of VEGF-dependent pathological neovascularization. PTK787/ZK 222584 is a potent inhibitor of VEGF receptor tyrosine kinases, active in the submicromolar range. It also inhibits other class III kinases, like the PDGFR-beta tyrosine kinase, c-Kit and c-Fms, but at higher concentrations. It is not active against kinases from other receptor families such as EGFR, FGFR-1, c-Met and Tie-2 or intracellular kinases like c-Src, c-Abl, PKC-alpha. PTK787/ZK 222584 inhibits VEGF-induced autophosphorylation of KDR, and endothelial cell proliferation, migration and survival in the nanomolar range in cell based assays. In concentrations up to 1 microM, PTK787/ZK 222584 does not have any cytotoxic or anti-proliferative effect on cells that do not express VEGF receptors. After oral dosing (50 mg/kg) to mice, plasma concentrations of PTK787/ZK 222584 remain above 1 microM for more than 8 h. PTK787/ZK 222584 induces dose-dependent inhibition of VEGF- and PDGF-induced angiogenesis in a growth factor implant model, as well as a tumor cell-driven angiogenesis model after once daily oral dosing (25-100 mg/kg). In the same dose range, it also inhibits the growth of several human carcinomas, grown subcutaneously in nude mice, as well as a murine renal carcinoma and its metastases in syngeneic, orthotopic models. Histological examination of tumors reveals inhibition of microvessel formation in the interior of the tumor. PTK787/ZK 222584 also significantly inhibits ascites formation induced by a human ovarian carcinoma grown in the peritoneum of nude mice as well as pleural effusion induced by a human lung adenocarcinoma in nude mice. PTK787/ZK 222584 is very well tolerated and does not impair wound healing. It also does not have any significant effects on circulating blood cells or bone marrow leukocytes as a single agent, or impair hematopoetic recovery following concomitant cytotoxic anti-cancer agent challenge. These studies indicate that compounds that inhibit the effects of VEGF, such as PTK787/ZK 222584, have the potential to provide a novel, effective and well-tolerated therapy for the treatment of solid tumors. These agents may also provide a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of other diseases where angiogenesis plays an important role.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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