News of the WeekCancer Research

A Surprising Partner for Angiostatin

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Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1831
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1831

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The proteins angiostatin and endostatin have generated a lot of excitement in the past year or two because of reports that they can stop or slow cancer growth in mice, apparently by preventing the birth of new blood vessels needed to nourish growing tumors. But protein drugs can be fragile and hard to produce, and efforts to get around these problems by developing small molecules that would mimic the effects of these proteins have been handicapped because little is known about how they act. Now, a research team reports in the 16 March issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that angiostatin binds to a surprising target on the surface of the endothelial cells responsible for blood vessel growth: an enzyme called adenosine triphosphate synthase, never before found on the outer membranes of normal cells. The binding appears to be needed for angiostatin's antigrowth effects, and ATP synthase may thus be a target for anticancer drugs that work by inhibiting blood vessel formation.