Oklahoma scientists find way to slow cancer tumor growth in mice

Researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation discovered a way to slow cancer tumors from growing in mice by removing a protein that regulates the formation of blood vessels. In some cases, cancer growth was stopped altogether.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: January 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013

At first, scientist Hong Chen didn't believe the results.

“When they showed me the results, I said, ‘Are you guys nuts?'” Chen said.

Chen and a group of researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation recently made a discovery that could lead to new or better therapies in cancer treatment.

Their discovery relates to how cancer tumors grow in the body.

Tumors are similar to plants, in that they need a variety of nutrients to grow, according to the medical research foundation. Where plants use roots to draw water and minerals from the soil, cancers use blood vessels to deliver the nourishment needed to expand, according to the foundation.

Epsins are proteins that regulate the formation of blood vessels. Researchers in Chen's lab removed epsins from the system, which meant the blood vessels could grow uninhibited around the tumor, without epsins to regulate their formation.

When the researchers removed epsins, they expected to see unrestricted blood vessel growth and large, aggressive tumors, according to the research foundation.

But they found the opposite — there were tumors that hadn't grown, had shrunk or, in some cases, had disappeared.

“In the absence of epsins, several blood vessels were made, but the tumors were smaller,” said OMRF researcher Satish Pasula in a news release.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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