Caution urged in research with angiogenesis therapy

July 02, 2001

DALLAS, - Using gene therapy to spur new blood vessel growth and improve blood flow is a promising treatment for clogged arteries leading to the heart or legs. However, the technique, called angiogenesis, should be pursued with caution, researchers write in a "Current Perspective" article in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"We are optimistic that ultimately angiogenesis therapy will prove effective and safe," the researchers write. However, researchers "need to be aware of the biological effects of each angiogenic agent being proposed for clinical studies and accept the likelihood that complications will occur." Angiogenesis was essentially unknown just a decade ago, the authors write, and today there is great excitement about the major impact it may have on the treatment of clogged arteries.

But for all the promise of angiogenesis, there are inherent, potentially serious side effects that have not been discussed in-depth in the medical community.

Triggering growth in abnormal tissue or of abnormal blood vessels, increasing the growth of artery-clogging plaque and stimulating the inflammatory response are among potential complications. The authors say these possible complications may not occur in the clinical setting, and they are hopeful that angiogenesis ultimately will live up to its promise. But they also emphasize that researchers must be aware that there are complications that can occur.
The review was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. Stephen E. Epstein, M.D., executive director, Cardiovascular Research Institution (CRI) and director, Vascular Biology Laboratory at CRI, Washington, DC; 202-877-7460; e-mail:

CONTACT: For journal copies only, please call: 214-706-1396. For other information, call: Carole Bullock: 214-706-1279; Bridgette McNeill: 214-706-1135.

NR01-1306 (Circ/Epstein)

American Heart Association

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