Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor: from discovery to therapy

Gemma S L Manasseh, Marcus Fruttiger

Abstract

Blood vessels are fundamental to life, facilitating delivery of vital nutrients to tissues. If vascular function is interrupted tissues may perish, as occurs in many disease states. Understanding basic vascular biology is essential for the identification of potential therapeutic targets and the development of treatment modalities. A key success story in the translation of basic science research to clinical medicine is that of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). It was identified in relation to increased vascularity associated with tumour growth, and work began to define its role in human health and disease. The role of VEGF in ocular neovascular disease became particularly apparent in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), directly leading to the development of anti-VEGF therapy. VEGF is also central to normal retinal vascular development, and when interrupted by premature birth, retinopathy of prematurity can result. The successful translation of VEGF research into effective therapy has heralded much success in ophthalmology practice.

Keywords: VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor, age-related macular degeneration, retinopathy