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Research Uncovers New Vascular Pathway for Treatment of Several Diseases

Discovery Opens Door to New Treatment Mechanisms for Cancer, Macular Degeneration, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Atherosclerosis

10/4/10

Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute investigators, led by Tatiana Byzova, PhD, Director of the Center for Angiogenesis Research, in collaboration with the Taussig Cancer Institute and researchers at Case Western Reserve University, have discovered a fundamental biological pathway that could accelerate improved treatments of many diseases, including age-related macular generation, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. The study was published in the online edition of the journal Nature today.

This never-before-described pathway establishes a new understanding regarding the impact of inflammation and oxidative stress on angiogenesis, leading to novel approaches to advanced treatments for many diseases.

"This research in angiogenesis is an exciting new approach," said Napoleone Ferrara, MD, a leader in angiogenesis research and a 2010 Lasker Award winner. "By blocking this new pathway, such studies may lead us to new discoveries."

For example, more than 20 years ago, a molecule called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was discovered to induce blood vessel formation in response to impaired oxygen supply to the tumor. Anti-VEGF treatment has proven initially successful in many cases; however, all too often, the tumor develops resistance, presenting a major roadblock to long-term survival.

This latest discovery’s identification of a unique pathway to angiogenesis, via inflammation and oxidative stress, points to a novel cancer therapy that may well be an alternate way to kill tumors that have managed to survive despite VEGF inhibition. The fundamental discovery also provides substantial insight for novel treatments for other diseases that involve inflammation, oxidative stress, and angiogenesis. Current research is further characterizing oxidized compounds having angiogenic activities, moving forward with therapeutic applications of these recent findings.

About the Lerner Research Institute

The Lerner Research Institute is home to Cleveland Clinic’s laboratory, translational and clinical research. Its mission: to promote human health by investigating in the laboratory and the clinic the causes of disease and discovering novel approaches to prevention and treatments; to train the next generation of biomedical researchers; and to foster productive collaborations with those providing clinical care. The total annual research expenditure was $272 million in 2009 (including $100 million in federal funding). More than 2,000 people (including ~200 principal investigators, 290 postdoctoral fellows, and 185 graduate students) in 11 departments work in research programs focusing on cardiovascular, cancer, neurologic, musculoskeletal, allergic and immunologic, eye, metabolic, and infectious diseases. The Institute includes more than 700,000 square feet of space. Institute faculty oversee the curriculum and teach students enrolled in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University – training the next generation of physician-scientists, and they participate in multiple doctoral programs, including a new Molecular Medicine PhD Program supported in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. It was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,100 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to its main campus, Cleveland Clinic operates nine community hospitals and 15 Family Health Centers in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and opening in 2012, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2009, there were more than 4.6 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 170,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 100 countries.

Media Contacts:

Tracy Wheeler, wheelet2@ccf.org, 216.444.4235
Joe Milicia, milicij2@ccf.org, 216.636.5873