Angiogenesis as a therapeutic target in arthritis: learning the lessons of the colorectal cancer experience
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The idea of a therapeutic modality aimed at ‘starving’ a tissue of blood vessels, and consequentially of oxygen and nutrients, was born from the concept that blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) is central to the progression and maintenance of diseases which involve tissue expansion/invasion. In the first instance, solid malignancies were the target for anti-angiogenic treatments, with colorectal cancer being the first disease for which an angiogenesis inhibitor—anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibody bevacizumab—was approved in 2004.
Our understanding of the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has lead to many parallels being drawn between this chronic inflammatory disease and solid tumours, in that both involve tissue expansion, invasion, expression of cytokines and growth factors and areas of hypoxia/hypoperfusion. As a result, angiogenesis blockade has been touted as a possible treatment for RA. The lessons learnt during the progression of eventually successful therapies such as bevacizumab should undoubtedly guide us in the future development of comparable treatments for RA.