Obesity may promote resistance to antiangiogenic therapy for breast cancer

Obesity – which is already known to reduce survival in several types of cancer – may explain the ineffectiveness of angiogenesis inhibitors in the treatment of breast cancer. A research team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators describes finding, for the first time, that obesity and obesity-related molecular factors appear to induce resistance to antiangiogenic therapy in breast cancer patients and in two mouse models of the disease. Their report in Science Translational Medicine also details specific obesity-related factors underlying that resistance and outlines potential therapeutic strategies that may overcome it.

“Collectively, our clinical and preclinical results indicate that obesity fuels resistance to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy in breast cancer via production of several inflammatory and pro-angiogenic factors, depending on the subtype of cancer,” says Joao Incio, MD, PhD, of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology in the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology, lead author of the report. “Targeting these resistance factors may rejuvenate the use of antiangiogenic therapy in breast cancer treatment.”

While promising early studies led to accelerated FDA approval of the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug bevacizumab for treatment of metastatic breast cancer, a lack of long-term survival benefit in several


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