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The Need for New Anti-angiogenic Drugs

Angiogenesis is a term given to the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vasculature and is essential for organ development, growth and wound healing. However, angiogenesis is also associated with numerous pathologies most notably cancer progression and neovascular disorders of the eye.

Since scientists first postulated the idea of blocking angiogenesis to prevent tumour growth over three decades ago, research has subsequently identified many key molecular and cellular processes that regulate angiogenesis in both health and disease. This basic research underpinned the development of anti-angiogenic drugs, particularly those targeting VEGF and its receptors, that have revolutionised patient care in the last decade. Anti-angiogenic therapy is now regarded as the fourth modality in cancer therapy (1) and is the current standard of care for ocular neovascular diseases such as neovascular age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) (2), with a global market valued at approx. $12 billion (2010) dominated by sales of anti-VEGFs.

Despite this progress, anti-VEGF therapy has proven more challenging than initially anticipated owing to its limited efficacy (particularly in cancer therapy), significant toxicity and prevalence of tachyphylaxis (1). This underpins the need for the development of new anti-angiogenic drugs that either exceeds the performance of anti-VEGFs or that promote a therapeutic synergy when combined together.


  1. Cao, Y and Langer, R. (2008) A review of Judah Folkman’s remarkable achievements in biomedicine. PNAS 105, 13203-13205
  2. Benny O, Nakai K, Yoshimura T, Bazinet L, Akula JD, et al. (2010) Broad Spectrum Antiangiogenic Treatment for Ocular Neovascular Diseases. PLoSONE  5(9): e12515. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012515