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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2001 Jul;226(7):665-73.

Copper control as an antiangiogenic anticancer therapy: lessons from treating Wilson's disease.

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Department of Human Genetics, 4909 Buhl Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0618, USA.


The search for new anticopper drugs for Wilson's disease is culminating in two excellent new drugs: zinc for maintenance therapy and tetrathiomolybdate (TM) for initial therapy. Both are effective and nontoxic. TM is a very potent, fast-acting new anticopper drug and its properties may be useful well beyond Wilson's disease. Angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth) is required for tumor growth, and a sufficient level of copper appears to be required for angiogenesis. We hypothesize that there is a "window" to which the copper level can be reduced that inhibits angiogenesis in tumors, but does not interfere with vital cellular functions of copper. Using TM therapy, this approach has worked to slow or stabilize tumor growth in several animal tumor models, and preliminary results are also very encouraging in human patients with a variety of advanced and metastatic malignancies. A hypothesis is advanced that copper availability has played a fundamental role in growth regulation throughout evolution and that is the reason that so many angiogenic promoters appear to be dependent upon copper levels.

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