Tumour biology

Herceptin acts as an anti-angiogenic cocktail


Malignant tumours secrete factors that enable them to commandeer their own blood supply (angiogenesis), and blocking the action of these factors can inhibit tumour growth. But because tumours may become resistant to treatments that target individual angiogenic factors by switching over to other angiogenic molecules1,2, a cocktail of multiple anti-angiogenic agents should be more effective. Here we show that herceptin3, a monoclonal antibody against the cell-surface receptor HER2 (for human epidermal growth factor receptor-2; ref. 4), induces normalization and regression of the vasculature in an experimental human breast tumour that overexpresses HER2 in mice, and that it works by modulating the effects of different pro- and anti-angiogenic factors. As a single agent that acts against multiple targets, herceptin, or drugs like it, may offer a simple alternative to combination anti-angiogenic treatments.

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Figure 1: Effects of herceptin on MDA-MB-361HK tumour growth, angiogenesis and gene expression.


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Correspondence to Rakesh K. Jain.

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Competing interests

The study reported in this paper was in part supported by Genentech.

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Izumi, Y., Xu, L., di Tomaso, E. et al. Herceptin acts as an anti-angiogenic cocktail. Nature 416, 279–280 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/416279b

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