Tests & Procedures

Angiogenesis Inhibitors

What is angiogenesis?

Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, is a process controlled by certain chemicals produced in the body. It comes from two Greek words, "angio," meaning blood vessel and "genesis," meaning beginning. Although this may help in normal wound healing, cancer can grow when these new blood vessels are created. New blood vessels near the cancer cells provide them with oxygen and nutrients. This allows the cancer cells to multiply, invade nearby tissue, and spread to other areas of the body (metastasize).

What are angiogenesis inhibitors and how do they work?

A chemical that interferes with the signals to form new blood vessels is referred to as an angiogenesis inhibitor. Scientists have studied the effect of antiogenesis inhibitors on certain kinds of tumors and cancers.

Sometimes called antiangiogenic therapy, this treatment may prevent the growth of cancer by blocking the formation of new blood vessels. Angiogenesis inhibitor therapy may stabilize the tumor and prevent it from growing further or reduce the size of the tumor.

Some other cancer drugs are known to act in similar ways. Thalidomide® (Thalomid) and lenalidomide (Revlimid®) hav been identified as having mild activity as angiogenesis inhibitors.

An angiogenesis inhibitor medication, bevacizumab (Avastin), has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to aid in the treatment of glioblastoma, colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and metastatic renal cell cancer. Other antiangiogenesis therapies include sunitinib (Sutent®), sorafenib (Nexavar®), pazopanib (Votrient®), and everolimus (Afinitor®).

Angiogenesis inhibitors have different side effects from most conventional cancer chemotherpay medications because they work differently. Rather than killing healthy cells along with cancer cells, as many chemotherapy drugs do, angiogenesis inhibitors only prevent new blood vessels from forming. Though the side effects are generally less and milder than with conventional chemotherapy medications, some of the side effects can be serious and include high blood pressure, intestinal bleeding, clots in the arteries (which may lead to heart attack or stroke), and poor wound healing. Angiogenesis inhibitors might also affect a developing fetus and are not recommended for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.

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Last reviewed: 8/31/2012