In modern cancer research, many institutions and drug companies spend millions of dollars finding small molecule compounds and proteins to inhibit angiogenesis in tumor growth. Research interaction between tumor cells and its microenvironment has been ongoing since 1989 with Dr. Napolene Ferra and his team on discovering vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein associated with vessel development. By 1996, Dr. Jeffery Isner published the first of many clinical trials he and his research team conducted concerning angiogenesis. However only a handful of drugs that inhibit angiogenesis were developed and approved by the FDA.
One such drug is called Avastin (bevacizumab). Avastin is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody. Its development was based on the discovery of VEGF. It received its first approval in 2004, for combination use with standard chemotherapy for metastatic colon cancer. It has since been approved for use in certain lung cancers, renal cancers, ovarian cancers, and glioblastoma multiforme of the brain.
The FDA has approved other drugs that have antiangiogenic activity, includingsorafenbi (Nexavara®), sunitinib (Sutent®), pazopanib (Votrient®), and everolimus (Afinitor®). For the most part, these drugs tend to have milder side effects than chemotherapy drugs. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, anti-angiogenesis drugs tend not to attack normal cells. They target areas where new blood vessels are forming; whereas chemotherapy drugs targets any cells that divides quickly, so they work on cancer cells as well as cells in bone marrow, the skin, and in the mouth and intestines.
However anti-angiogenesis drugs are not without risk and have their own side effects. Although they're not as common or severe as those from chemotherapy, they can still be serious, or even life-threatening. These risks may cause problems with fetal development, wound healing, blood pressure and bleeding of intestinal track.