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Tumor angiogenesis research has evolved to become one of the most rapidly growing biomedical disciplines. It is also a conceptually novel avenue in cancer research, as it looks beyond classical tumor cell-centric oncological research strategies to focus on the stable tumor stroma instead of the neoplastically transformed tumor cell compartment itself. Tumor angiogenesis research has also defined a new paradigm in oncology research which currently drives developments towards a more complex molecular understanding of later stages of tumor progression as they are associated with metastatic dissemination.

Fig. 1: Change of paradigm in angiogenesis research: The simplistic view of an invading capillary sprout is increasingly replaced by an appreciation of vascular morphogenesis as a complex three dimensional process that is regulated by an intricate interplay of a series of hierarchically structured signalling systems.

The field of angiogenesis moved beyond the simplistic concepts of an invading and migrating capillary sprout to increasingly appreciate vascular morphogenesis as a complex three dimensional process that involves distinct steps of organization and anastomotic network formation, asymmetric flow-driven orientation into arteries, capillaries and veins, mechanisms of maturation by recruitment of covering mural cells, and eventually molecularly poorly understood mechanisms of organotypic differentiation (Fig. 1). Moreover, angiogenesis modulates and is modulated by the environment. Thus, the hitherto simplistic concept of angiogenesis as an individual mechanism has to be extended in order to study the role of angiogenesis associated with certain pathological conditions as tumor growth.
Our laboratory research program is aimed at understanding the involvement of the different key players of the angiogenic and lymphangiogenic with tumor growth, invasion and metastatic tumor progression. Primarily focussing on vascular receptor tyrosine kinases (VEGF/VEGFR/NP, ephrin/Eph, Semaphorin/NP/Plexin, Angiopoietin/Tie), each of the lab’s three teams has defined its research program and a primary technological platform expertise facilitating a strong tutorial atmosphere and the distribution of the resources within the team.

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