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Can a molecular ‘road block’ beat cancer?

One of our newest grant holders, Dr Vassiliki Kostourou in Athens, is finding ways to block vital blood supply to tumours.

Think how quickly city traffic jams can cause chaos, grinding everything to a halt within minutes. This is exactly how blocking a tumour’s blood supply can spell disaster for cancer.

As tumours grow they develop their own blood vessels which act much like roads, bringing in nutrients, oxygen and growth signals and taking out waste. The blood vessels also form escape routes, allowing tumour cells to reach other parts of the body. Dr Kostourou is using our funding to find new molecular ways to stop the blood vessels from growing- so the tumour will starve and die.

Some effective ‘antiangiogenic’ therapies, drugs which block tumour blood vessel growth, are already available to patients. But cancers can commonly develop resistance to these types of treatment, and better ways of blocking blood vessel growth are needed.

Dr Kostourou’s work, which is focusing on a cell molecule called Talin, could open new and unexplored ways of treating many different types of tumour.