Angiogenesis is required for invasive tumor growth and metastasis and constitutes an important point in the control of cancer progression. Its inhibition may be a valuable new approach to cancer therapy. Avascular tumors are severely restricted in their growth potential because of the lack of a blood supply. For tumors to develop in size and metastatic potential they must make an "angiogenic switch" through perturbing the local balance of proangiogenic and antiangiogenic factors. Frequently, tumors overexpress proangiogenic factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor, allowing them to make this angiogenic switch. Two strategies used in the development of antiangiogenic agents involve the inhibition of proangiogenic factors (eg, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor monoclonal antibodies) as well as therapy with endogenous inhibitors of angiogenesis, such as endostatin and angiostatin. Therapy with endogenous angiogenic inhibitors such as endostatin and angiostatin may reverse the angiogenic switch preventing growth of tumor vasculature. Preclinical studies have shown that endostatin effectively inhibits tumor growth and shrinks existing tumor blood vessels. Phase 1 clinical trials of endostatin and angiostatin are ongoing, and preliminary results show minimal toxicities.
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