Vascular endothelial growth factor and vascular targeting of solid tumors

Rolf A. Brekken, Philip E. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Vascular targeting agents, which selectively destroy tumor blood vessels, are attractive agents for the treatment of solid tumors. They differ from anti-angiogenic agents in that they target the mature, blood-conducting vessels of the tumors. They are better suited for larger tumors where angiogenesis can occur less frequently. For application in man, target molecules are needed that are selectively expressed on the vascular endothelium of tumors. Such markers include the complexes that are formed when vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) binds to its receptors (VEGFR). VEGF production by tumor cells is induced by oncogenic gene mutations and by the hypoxic conditions within the tumor mass. The receptors, VEGFR1 (FLT-1) and VEGFR2 (KDR/Flk-1), are upregulated on vascular endothelial cells in tumors by hypoxia and by the increased local concentration of VEGF. Consequently, there is a high concentration of occupied receptors on tumor vascular endothelium. Here, we review the concept of vascular targeting and the development of monoclonal antibodies that bind to VEGF: VEGFR complexes and their use as tumor vascular targeting agents. A promising monoclonal antibody is 2C3, which blocks VEGF from binding to VEGFR2 but not VEGFR1. We conclude that 2C3 might have dual activity as an anti-angiogenic agent by inhibiting VEGFR2 activity and as a vascular targeting agent for selective drug delivery to tumor vessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4221-4229
Number of pages9
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number6 B
StatePublished - 2001


  • Tumor angiogenesis
  • VEGF
  • Vascular targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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