THURSDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The protein galectin-1 is important for tumor blood vessel growth and may be a new target for anti-cancer drugs, according to a study published online Oct. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Arjan W. Griffioen, Ph.D., from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and colleagues investigated the target of the anti-angiogenesis drug anginex and found that the target was galectin-1 receptor. The function of galectin-1 was examined in cultured endothelial cells by reducing galectin-1 expression and by knocking out the galectin-1 gene in zebrafish and mice.
The researchers found that galectin-1 was expressed at high levels in tumor but not normal endothelial cells and that endothelial cell proliferation and migration were inhibited by reducing galectin-1 expression. Lack of galectin-1 in zebrafish resulted in blood vessels that were dysfunctional and poorly organized, while tumor growth in mice lacking galectin-1 was considerably slower due to lack of tumor angiogenesis.
"The current study demonstrates that galectin-1 is important in tumor angiogenesis, and that targeting of galectin-1 can be an efficient angiostatic therapeutic strategy," Griffioen and colleagues write.