As a result of excessive production of angiogenic molecules, tumor vessels become abnormal in structure and function. By impairing oxygen delivery, abnormal vessels fuel a vicious cycle of non-productive angiogenesis, which creates a hostile microenvironment from where tumor cells escape through leaky vessels and which renders tumors less responsive to chemoradiation. While anti-angiogenic strategies focused on inhibiting new vessel growth and destroying pre-existing vessels, clinical studies showed modest anti-tumor effects. For many solid tumors, anti-VEGF treatment offers greater clinical benefit when combined with chemotherapy. This is partly due to a normalization of the tumor vasculature, which improves cytotoxic drug delivery and efficacy and offers unprecedented opportunities for anti-cancer treatment. Here, we overview key novel molecular players that induce vessel normalization.
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