In recent years, researchers have learned a great deal about how cancer cells differ from normal cells. In an effort to find drugs without the potentially severe side effects of chemotherapy, medical professionals have now discovered drugs which target the tumor itself while sparing the body’s normal cells. One such group are the anti-angiogenesis drugs.
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What’s the problem?
Angiogenesis inhibitors encompass a group of drugs that block angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels. Solid tumors are unable to grow beyond the size of a pinhead without the formation of new blood vessels to supply the nutritional needs of the tumor. By blocking the development of new blood vessels, the inhibitor cuts off the tumor’s supply of oxygen and nutrients, halting its continued growth and possible spread to other parts of the body. Unlike standard chemotherapy drugs, anti-angiogenic drugs are not toxic to most healthy cells, so they can be given without interruption. This may help these drugs be more effective in the treatment of cancer.
The most successful anti-angiogenic drug to date has been Endostatin. According to the manufacturers of the drug, Endostatin is a natural anti-angiogenic protein that has been shown to inhibit the growth of blood vessels, thereby starving cancerous tumors. Researchers have also discovered that when the drug is repeatedly administered, it consistently shrank primary tumors and, unlike traditional chemotherapy treatments, showed no drug resistance over time.
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