As a cancerous tumor grows, it needs new blood vessels to deliver nutrients and remove waste. Several cancer drugs work by disrupting the process of growing new blood vessels — called angiogenesis — to attempt to starve the cancer. But the methods for finding new and potentially more potent angiogenesis blockers have drawbacks. Some approaches look at several angiogenesis proteins in a test tube, which represent just one aspect of blood vessel formation. Others more closely model the natural process but are not very reproducible or can only look at a handful of molecules at a time.
NCATS scientists, led by Menghang Xia, Ph.D., developed a new test, or assay, to identify molecules that block angiogenesis in special screening plates the size of an index card. These plates and allow investigators to look at more than 1,500 molecules at once with robot. The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) named this work one of the ten most innovative scientific achievements to appear in its journal SLAS Technology in 2018.
The NCATS investigators used two types of human cells that grow into blood vessel “tubes” in a 1,536-well plate. Because one type of these cells is engineered to glow green, researchers can see how many tubes form and find drugs that reduce the number of tubes in the plate. The team tested the approach with the NCATS Pharmaceutical Collection and found both known and potential new anticancer drugs that block angiogenesis. Read more about their work in the June 2018 issue of SLAS Technology.
Posted March 2019