Jít proti všeobecnému mínění

CAMBRIDGE – Když jsem v roce 1974 dokončil postgraduální studium, měl jsem to úžasné štěstí, že jsem svou postdoktorální práci dělal s Judahem Folkmanem. Dr. Folkman měl teorii, že vývin nádorů by bylo možné zastavit, když se jim odřízne zdroj výživy. Nadnesl, že nádory vylučují látku označovanou jako angiogenní faktor tumoru, která způsobuje, že k němu vyrůstají krevní cévy, které dodávají živiny a odvádějí zplodiny. Folkman předložil hypotézu, že tento proces, angiogeneze, je pro přežití nádoru zásadní.

Teorie šla příkře proti zažitému názoru. Vědci, kteří posuzovali Folkmanovy granty, měli za to, že nové cévy jsou jednoduše důsledkem zánětu. Folkman ale vytrval a nakonec dokázal, že takové chemické látky skutečně existují. Dnes, čtyři dekády nato, už tyto látky byly využity k léčbě více než 10 milionů lidí s neovaskulárními onemocněními, jako je makulární degenerace a různé formy rakoviny.

Zažil jsem něco podobného, když jsem se při práci v jeho laboratoři snažil izolovat první inhibitory růstu krevních cév (jednalo se o látky s velkou molekulární hmotností). K tomu bylo zapotřebí vyvinout biotest, který by nám umožnil sledovat potlačení růstu cév za přítomnosti nádorů.

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