What is it about?

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the most used cancer marker worldwide. Despite intensive research, it is not really clear what role it plays in the development of prostate cancer. Initially, it was thought that PSA inhibits blood vessel growth and therefore has a positive effect because blood vessel growth ("angiogenesis") is often associated with cancer progression. However, recent data suggests that the situation is more complicated than that. The discovery that PSA can activate Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-C (VEGF-C) and VEGF-D opened the door for multiple scenarios in which PSA can act both as a tumor promoter and also in an inhibitory fashion, depending on which specific VEGF growth factor pattern a tumor expresses.

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Why is it important?

VEGF-C and VEGF-D inhibitors are in clinical trials and they might well be effective drugs for specific subpopulations of prostate cancer patients. The initial cancer treatment trials for these drugs have been very untargeted and they might perform well if we only would be able to identify the responsive subpopulation among all prostate cancer patients.

Perspectives

Hopefully, the anti-VEGF-C/VEGF-D drug (OPT-302) will be approved by the FDA soon. At least that would enable some more investigation into its off-label uses.

Dr Michael Jeltsch
Helsingin Yliopisto

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This page is a summary of: KLK3 in the Regulation of Angiogenesis—Tumorigenic or Not?, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, December 2021, MDPI AG, DOI: 10.3390/ijms222413545.
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