In a new study by Masanobu Komatsu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Cardiovascular Pathobiology Program and Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Programs, a cellular protein called R-Ras was found to suppress the effects of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a signaling molecule that helps create new blood vessels and is overexpressed in many tumors. The findings create a new route to treat cancer as well as certain causes of blindness and ischemic diseases.
“These results are the first showing that R-Ras can directly inhibit VEGF signaling that activates endothelial cells—the cells that line the inside of blood vessel walls and promote angiogenesis,” said Komatsu. “We found that R-Ras works by inhibiting the VEGF receptor from sending stimulatory signals in endothelial cells. Since tumor cells exploit the VEGF pathway to advance angiogenesis, our findings present a new opportunity to restore normal blood vasculature and may have a profound effect on diseases that cause, or are caused by, abnormal blood vessels.”