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The Department of Biomedicine

CCBIO seminar: Diane R. Bielenberg

Targeting neuropilin pathways to inhibit metastasis

Diane R. Bielenberg
Vascular Biology Program, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

As primary tumors grow in vivo, tumor cells must induce new blood vessels to sprout into the tumor environment, a process called angiogenesis, to provide adequate nutrients and oxygen. Additionally, tumor blood vessels serve as an escape route for tumor cells. Therefore, therapies aimed at inhibiting angiogenesis may not only block tumor growth but also metastasis, the spread of cancer cells to distant sites. Tumor-associated neo-vessels are typically leaky and lead to increased fluid volume and pressure in the interstitial space. Peri-tumoral lymphatic vessels can enlarge to compensate and drain this excess fluid. Tumor-associated lymphatic capillaries also serve as a primary escape route for tumor cells as the lymphatic system returns fluid and cells back to the blood vascular system. In this seminar current findings will be described related to the neuropilin-2 signaling cascades in blood and lymphatic vessels in physiological and pathological (cancer) models. Neuropilin-2 is required for neovascularization in many cancers and treatment with the neuropilin-2 inhibitory ligand, SEMA3F, can inhibit angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in preclinical cancer trials, thereby reducing overall metastatic burden.

Chairperson: Elisabeth Wik, CCBIO