The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 583 - 598 (2004)

Vol 48, Issue 5-6

Special Issue: Invasion in Cancer and Embryonic Development

Parallels in invasion and angiogenesis provide pivotal points for therapeutic intervention

Open Access | Published: 1 September 2004

Suzanne A. Eccles

Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, U.K.


Biological evolution is economical and successful fundamental processes are frequently recapitulated. There are remarkable similarities in the molecular mechanisms which enable tumour cells to invade into surrounding tissues and activated endothelial cells to generate new capillaries, which facilitate the growth and dissemination of cancer. Indeed these pathological processes are themselves based upon key vertebrate developmental processes, and in some cases parallel strategies used by microorganisms to colonise their hosts' tissues. The aim of this review is to explore these parallels in more detail and indicate possible pivotal points for therapeutic intervention. These novel approaches may ultimately optimise the selective targeting of processes involved in tumour invasion and angiogenesis, while sparing normal adult proliferating tissues. Strategies include inhibition of oncogenic pathways in tumour cells which not only stimulate tumour cell growth and invasion, but also initiate neoangiogenesis by upregulation of angiogenic cytokines. Secondly, downstream signalling pathways, transcriptional regulation and effectors common to both processes, and finally points of interaction/cross-talk between tumour cells and endothelial cells which are necessary to enable invasion and angiogenesis to proceed.


motility, proteolysis, signalling, angiogenesis, invasion

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