Paper published by IDIBELL researchers is the world’s most influential in biology, according to Science Watch


The article, “Antiangiogenic therapy elicits malignant progression of tumors to increased local invasion and distant metastasis”, was published on March 2009 in Cancer Cell, one of the most prestigious journals on cancer research. Since then, it has received 226 citations, 46 during the months of May and June 2010, which is the period evaluated by Thomson Reuters to make November and December ranking.

The study has been coordinated by Oriol Casanovas, researcher on IDIBELL and ICO (Catalan Institute of Oncology) Tumour angiogenesis group, and Douglas Hanahan, researcher at the University of California San Francisco. The first author of the study is Marta Paez-Ribes, IDIBELL predoctoral researcher. The work has also the collaboration of Francesc Viñals, researcher at IDIBELL and University of Barcelona.

The study offers an explanation of a phenomenon that has been puzzling during many years specialists in oncology. Tumours “produce” blood vessels that feed supplement to grow and reproduce. This phenomenon is called angiogenesis. When discovered, researchers immediately saw an opportunity to develop drugs blocking the proliferation of blood vessels around the tumor, so-called anti-angiogenesis drugs.

In this work, researchers have shown in experiments on mice with these therapies that there is an initial decrease in the number of tumor cells, but after some time, cancer spreads rapidly to other organs and tissues (metastasis). Specifically, malignant cells that survive after angiogenesis blockade can tolerate the lack of oxygen. These hypoxic cells activate mechanisms helping them spread to other tissues through the normal bloodstream. In addition, hypoxic cells are more resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This fact explains the poor response in patients to these treatments after receiving anti-angiogenic drugs. This discovery opens the door to new treatments.


Pàez-Ribes M*, Allen E, Hudock J, Takeda T, Okuyama H, Viñals F*, Inoue M, Bergers G, Hanahan D, Casanovas O*. Antiangiogenic therapy elicits malignant progression of tumors to increased local invasion and distant metastasis. Cancer Cell. 2009 Mar 3;15(3):220-31.

*IDIBELL researchers

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