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Application Brief - Cancer Angiogenisis


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Tumor angiogenesis is currently one of the key focal points in biomedical research. It is based upon the hypothesis laid out by Judah Folkman in 1971 that neovasculature is needed to support the growth and metastasis of tumors, and thus anti-angiogenic treatment might be an effective way to cure cancer. Genentech’s anti-VEGF-A drug Avastin a great demonstration of this concept, generating more than $2.7 billion of sales in 2008.

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Application Brief - Cancer Angiogenisis

  1. 1. Application Brief – Cancer AngiogenesisExecutive SummaryTumor angiogenesis is currently one of the key focal points in biomedical research. It is based uponthe hypothesis laid out by Judah Folkman in 1971 that neovasculature is needed to support thegrowth and metastasis of tumors, and thus anti-angiogenic treatment might be an effective way tocure cancer. Genentech’s anti-VEGF-A drug Avastin a great demonstration of this concept,generating more than $2.7 billion of sales in 2008.However, cancer angiogenesis research in animal models has long been hindered by the lack of afast, portable, high resolution, research and animal focused imaging system that can visualize 3Dtumor volume, neoangiogenesis, and blood perfusion in vivo, in real time, and most importantly,non-invasively. Indeed, it took 33 years after Folkman’s hypothesis for the first anti-angiogenictreatment to be approved by the FDA. In order to ameliorate this problem, VisualSonics hasintroduced a revolutionary micro-ultrasound system that allows researchers to collect a plethora ofimportant data over the lifespan of animals, thereby significantly reducing the number of animalsneeded. 3D tumor volume, tumor vascularity, and tissue perfusion can be quickly quantified, whileMicroMarkerTM contrast agents allow the visualization of capillaries, and also to track expression ofendothelial cell markers such as VEGF.Numerous satisfied cancer researchers using Vevo® micro-ultrasound systems, from institutionssuch as Vanderbilt, Stanford, and Toronto are publishing articles in leading journals such asScience, Clinical Cancer Research, PNAS, and Cancer Research. This is a testament of the powerand versatility of high resolution ultrasound. 3D Volume QuantificationApplication Brief: Cancer Angiogenesis ver1.0 1
  2. 2. Background on Cancer AngiogenesisThe field of cancer angiogenesis was established by Folkman in his novel hypothesis published in1971,1 in which he suggested that tumor growth is angiogenesis dependant. If angiogenesis can bestopped or prevented from occurring, then tumors would no longer be able to proliferate and harmits host. Over the next few decades, new research findings have further advanced this field. Forexample, it’s been found that in situ carcinomas may exist for years without switching to theangiogenic phenotype. This neoangiogenesis event is governed, at least in part, by the balance ofpositive and negative angiogenic factors, such as VEGF, aFGF, bFGF, angiogenin, etc.2Armed with this information, scientists began earnestly to look for the silver-bullet: anti-angiogeniccompounds that have low toxicity, low drug resistance, and high efficacy.2 However, it was 33years later before the first anti-angiogenic therapy, bevacizumab, was approved by the FDA.3Specifically, bevacizumab is a humanized antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor A(VEGF-A). Since then, other anti-angiogenic compounds have been approved around the world,5but it has been clear that the survival benefits offered by these expensive therapies were modestat best.3 In order to further understand the mechanisms behind these drugs and to improvetherapy, new theories have been postulated, including the theory of transient “tissue 6normalization” caused by these drugs.In today’s research, time is of the essence. To test these novel hypotheses and discover new drugsthat will hopefully be on the market before three more decades, scientists need access to imagingmodalities that grant them the possibility of visualizing tumor angiogenesis in vivo, non-invasively,and in real-time. Obviously, histology and dissection do not fill these criteria. MRI, PET, and SPECT,while each having unique benefits, still suffer from problems such as radiation, highsetup/maintenance costs, and lack of vasculature-confined contrast agents. This is where highfrequency ultra-sound comes in. Tumor Angiogenesis QuantificationApplication Brief: Cancer Angiogenesis ver1.0 2
  3. 3. Micro-Ultrasound in Cancer Angiogenesis ResearchMicro-ultrasound using high frequency probes and intravenous contrast agents has been regardedas an attractive technique for accessing angiogenic activity and monitoring anti-angiogenictherapy.7 Most research in this area is done using mice, because of their wide availability, varietyof strains, and ease of handling. Micro-ultrasound is especially suitable to study mice as they arethe perfect size to take advantage of the maximum resolution Vevo systems offer.For example, Olive et al. recently reported their findings in Science of using the Vevo highresolution system to image normal and diseased tissue in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer.8 Inaddition to measuring 3D tumor volume twice weekly, the researchers were able to make use ofMicroMarker microbubbles to visualize tumor perfusion. With this tool, they were able to determinethat KPC (Kip1 ubiquitylation-promoting complex) tumors were poorly perfused within the tumorparenchyma, despite being surrounded by well-perfused tissue.8 The group also used micro-ultrasound to detect changes in the tumor with injection of gemcitabine, which caused transientresponse in the tumor correlating to high levels of apoptosis8.Palmowski et al. recently published in Cancer Research their findings of using high-frequencyvolumetric Power Doppler ultrasound to capture flow-dependant signals and assess antiangiogeniceffects in a murine A431 model.9 The researchers used the Vevo 770 system to visualize the effectsof administration of SU11248 on tumor volumes and vascularity over a period of 9 days.9 Inaddition, the researchers made use of a novel technique: destruction of microbubbles by high-mechanical index ultrasound sonoporation with the Vevo, to allow for a superior visualization ofearly antiangiogenic effects.Many other researchers in recent years have also been using Vevo systems as an easily accessible,applicable, fast, and superior way to image tumor volume and angiogenesis. For a complete list ofpublications, please refer to document titled Bibliography of Recent Cancer Research Papersfeaturing Vevo Systems. Tumor Blood FlowApplication Brief: Cancer Angiogenesis ver1.0 3
  4. 4. VisualSonics’ Value PropositionCancer research and angiogenesis visualization has traditionally been associated with imagingmodalities such as MRI, CT, PET, and SPECT. However, despite their various strengths, many ofthese systems suffer from significant drawbacks, including significant costs, in addition withcomplicated operating needs such as radioisotopes. Furthermore, none of the above imagingmodalities is real-time per se, compared with micro-ultrasound which can capture images at up to300 frames per second to study blood flow, perfusion, and important cardiotoxicity parameters.With Vevo systems, researchers now have access to a tool to visualize small animals in real timeand in vivo. In fact, it has been demonstrated by Loveless et al. that micro-ultrasound producesimages eclipsing MRI resolution, and that the two imaging systems can be combined to validateeach other’s results.10Below is a summary of the unique value proposition VisualSonics delivers to researchers with theVevo micro ultrasound systems: 1. Non-invasive, in vivo, real-time imaging for processes that happen over a period of time, such as angiogenesis and tumor volume changes. 2. Screening modality for early tumor detection (>1x10-4 mm3). This allows quick sorting of study animals to optimize homogeneity of test subjects. 3. Sophisticated quantification of tumor volumes in 2D and 3D. Together with stunning clarity of down to 30 μm, the researcher is given maximum flexibility in choosing from a wide variety of tumor models in small animals. 4. Observation of capillary formation and flow in neoangiogenesis, together with information on flow velocity and tumor perfusion. This gives the cancer researcher a powerful tool to examine therapeutic effects of drugs on angiogenesis over a longitudinal study. 5. Targeted biomarker molecular imaging with antibody-bound contrast agents. (VEGFR, integrins, VE-Cadherin, etc.) The unique property of these contrast agents to stay in the vasculature provides unparalleled power for angiogenesis biomarker research. 6. Guidance of micro-injections of stem cells, drugs, interstitial pressure probes etc. into tumors or vasculature, without need for invasive surgery. 7. Detection and quantification of cardiotoxicity in response to cancer therapy. The incomparable image acquisition speed and huge variety of software analysis tools allows for elaborate assessment of cardiac function. 8. Dedicated animal platform to monitor ECG, heart rate, body temperature, and respiration rates. The researcher is able to keep track of different parameters of the animal physiologyApplication Brief: Cancer Angiogenesis ver1.0 4
  5. 5. in real-time throughout the imaging session, and to maintain the animal under ideal conditions. Together with our specially designed anesthesia system, this also allows researchers to spend minimal time on preparatory work and thus optimize throughput.For a full list of cancer applications with the Vevo, together with examples from literature, pleaseconsult White Paper: High Resolution Micro-Ultrasound for Small Animal Cancer Imaging. Vevo 2100 Micro-Ultrasound Imaging SystemApplication Brief: Cancer Angiogenesis ver1.0 5
  6. 6. References 1. Folkman J. Tumor angiogenesis: therapeutic implications. N Engl J Med 1971;285:1182-6. 2. Folkman J. Angiogenesis in cancer, vascular, rheumatoid and other disease. Nat Med 1995;1(1):27-31. 3. Folkman J. Angiogenesis. Annu Rev Med 2006;57:1-18. 4. Ferrara N, Hillan KJ, Gerber HP, Novotny W. Discovery and development of bevacizumab, an anti-VEGF antibody for treating cancer. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2004;3:391-400. 5. Kerbel R. Molecular origins of cancer: tumor angiogenesis. N Engl J Med 2008;358(19):2039-49. 6. Jain RK. Normalization of tumor vasculature: an emerging concept in antiangiogenic therapy. Science 2006;307:58-62. 7. Cristofanilli M, Charnsangavej C, Nortobagyi GN. Angiogenesis modulation in cancer research: novel clinical approaches. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2002;1:415-26. 8. Olive KP, Jacobetz MA, Davidson CJ, Gopinathan A, McIntyre D, Honess D, et al. Inhibition of hedgehog signaling enhances delivery of chemotherapy in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. Science 2009 Jun 12;324(5933):1457-61. 9. Palmowski M, Huppert J, Hauff P, Reinhardt M, Schreiner K, Socher MA, et al. Vessel fractions in tumor xenografts depicted by flow- or contrast-sensitive three-dimensional high-frequency doppler ultrasound respond differently to antiangiogenic treatment. Cancer Res 2008 Sep 1;68(17):7042-9. 10. Loveless ME, Whisenant JG, Wilson K, Lyshchik A, Sinha TK, Gore JC, et al. Coregistration of ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging with a preliminary investigation of the spatial colocalization of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 expression and tumor perfusion in a murine tumor model. Mol Imaging 2009;8(4):187-98.Application Brief: Cancer Angiogenesis ver1.0 6