New Proteins Could Aid Cancer, Heart Treatments

Scientists discover new class of proteins that spur blood vessel development

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WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- California cancer researchers have discovered a new class of proteins that spurs the development of blood vessels -- a finding that could aid in the treatment of cancer, heart disease and more.

Newly named as "angiomatrix" proteins, they promote angiogenesis, the process by which the body forms new blood vessels, the researchers say.

A report on their finding, in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, describes how one such protein, the Del-1 protein, initiates angiogenesis by locking onto a cell membrane using a previously unknown cell adhesion receptor, the alpha-v-beta-5. It then activates a transcription factor called Hox D3, which initiates a chain of events that changes the cell profile -- and makes it angiogenic.

"In the cancer setting, you want to inhibit angiogenesis," writes lead researcher Judith Varner, an associate adjunct professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "Knowing the mechanism will help us design therapies that can inhibit Del-1."

On the other hand, researchers looking for new ways treat heart disease want to know how to promote angiogenesis.

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SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, news release, July 1, 2003

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