Gegen den Strom der gängigen Meinung

CAMBRIDGE – Nach Abschluss meines Studiums im Jahr 1974 hatte ich das enorme Glück, eine Postdoktorandenstelle bei Judah Folkman an der Harvard Medical School antreten zu können. Dr. Folkman vertrat die Theorie, dass das Fortschreiten eines Tumors gestoppt werden könnte, wenn man diesen von seiner Nährstoffversorgung abschneidet. Er behauptete, dass Tumore eine Substanz namens Tumor-Angiogenese-Faktor absondern, die umliegende Blutgefäße anregt, zum Tumor hin zu wachsen, um diesen mit Nährstoffen zu versorgen und Zellabfall abzutransportieren. Folkman stellte die Hypothese auf, dass dieser Prozess, die Angiogenese, entscheidend für das Überleben des Tumors sei.

Diese Theorie stand in krassem Widerspruch zu den damals gängigen Meinungen. Wissenschaftler, die Folkmans Beiträge beurteilten, waren der Ansicht, dass sich die neuen Blutgefäße einfach aufgrund einer Entzündung bildeten. Doch Folkman beharrte auf seiner Theorie und legte schließlich den Beweis vor, dass es derartige chemische Substanzen gab. Heute, vier Jahrzehnte später, sind bereits über 10 Millionen Menschen, die unter neovaskulären Erkrankungen wie Makula-Degeneration oder verschiedenen Krebsformen litten, damit behandelt worden.

Ich machte ähnliche Erfahrungen, als ich in seinem Labor arbeitete, um die ersten Inhibitoren für das Blutgefäßwachstum zu isolieren (Substanzen mit hohem Molekulargewicht). Zu dieser Arbeit gehörte die Entwicklung eines Bioassays, der uns ermöglichen würde, die Hemmung des Blutgefäß-Wachstums im Falle eines Tumors zu beobachten.

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