Affiliation: CuraGen Corporation, 322 East Main Street, Branford, CT 06405, USA.
The inhibition of angiogenesis is an emerging therapeutic strategy for cancer treatment. In contrast to conventional therapies, anti-angiogenic therapies primarily target tumor-associated endothelial cells which serve as a lifeline for tumor growth, progression and metastasis. By blocking the supply of essential nutrients and the removal of metabolites, anti-angiogenic therapies aim to delay both primary and metastastic tumor growth while overcoming the inherent cytotoxicities of classical chemotherapies. Indeed, tumor-related angiogenesis is a multi-step process initiated by a cascade of proangiogenic factors secreted from both the tumor and host tissues. These intricate processes involve a close interaction of tumor and associated endothelial cells as well as an intimate communication between proliferating endothelial cells, stromal cells and extracellular matrix components. Inhibition of these proangiogenic mechanisms has become a major challenge for the development of anti-cancer treatment modalities. In this regard, anti-angiogenic therapies embody a potentially powerful adjunct to traditional cancer therapies. In this review, we provide an overview of traditional anti-cancer drugs and discuss the fundamentals of anti-angiogenic therapies. While presenting the salient features of the anti-angiogenic agents targeting the individual phases of angiogenesis, we highlight the potential for specific agent development as novel anti-angiogenic therapeutics. Finally, we present and summarize emerging angiogenesis inhibitors.