The term angiogenesis means ‘formation of new blood vessels’. It is an important process in growth and development of tissues and organs. It is also useful in the process of healing and reproduction. However, in morbid situation like cancer, angiogenesis becomes troublesome. Angiogenesis is also the reason for tumour tissues to grow abruptly and promote metastasis (spread to other nearby organs). Additional capillaries are formed in cancer tissues to help supply nutrients necessary for tumour growth and expansion. In age-related macular degeneration there is proliferation of capillaries into the retina of the eye.
Treatments for conditions like cancers, wet age-related macular degeneration, ischaemic heart disease, etc. are based on targeting angiogenesis by either inhibiting or stimulating it. Angiogenesis inhibitors are substances that prevent the formation of blood vessels. In cancer therapy, they are used to prevent the growth or spread of tumour by preventing new blood vessels formation. They help in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration by reducing the level of blood vessel growth stimulating factors in the retina and macula. Angiogenesis may be stimulated in wounds, heart and brain with poor circulation to increase blood supply for speedy healing.