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How do our blood vessels become leaky and how can we can stop it happening?

  • Researcher: Professor Lena Claesson-Welsh
  • Institution: Uppsala University
  • Award Amount: £207,045 for 3 years from June 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
How do our blood vessels become leaky and how can we can stop it happening?

In order for tumours to grow larger than about 1 millimetre across they must have their own blood supply to enable enough oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells. Tumour cells produce a hormone-like molecule called VEGF which encourages new blood vessels to grow towards the tumours. VEGF also causes blood vessels to become more porous and leaky, allowing tumour cells to get into the bloodstream and spread around the body. In addition, the leakiness causes fluid (mainly water) to build up around the tumor and cause swelling and discomfort for the patient. This swelling can also stop drugs from getting to the correct site of the tumour, making them less effective. With her Worldwide Cancer Research grant Professor Claesson-Welsh is going to investigate how VEGF is involved in causing the blood vessels to become leaky. She then plans to identify chemicals that could act as potential drugs to stop this excessive leaking. In order to do this she will be using mice to test the potential drugs for their ability to stop the leaking and to see if the drug can get to the correct place in the body without any unwanted side effects.

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