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Research Field Neuroscience

VEGF Veteran

Take us back to the beginning...

In 1983, after finishing medical school in Catania, I came to the US. At that time in Italy, going to medical school was a good route if you were interested in research – as PhD programs were not well established yet. Fortunately, I was offered a great opportunity to do a fellowship at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) – and that’s where the VEGF story began. In those early years at UCSF working on neuroendocrinology, I came across an intriguing finding: pituitary cells seemed to be stimulating blood vessel growth. I tested pituitary cell supernatant on endothelial cells, and to my surprise there was strong angiogenic activity. I speculated that it could lead to something interesting, so I began to follow it up.

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About the Author

Napoleone Ferrara

Napoleone Ferrara was involved in the isolation and cloning of VEGF and demonstrated its role in angiogenesis. His work helped lead to the development and initial approval of bevacizumab for use in colorectal cancer. He was also involved in the clinical development of ranibizumab as a potential therapy for wet AMD. Today, his lab investigates non-VEGF-related angiogenesis mechanisms which may lead to therapies effective in anti-VEGF non-responders, in particular the role of the microenvironment and of factors produced by immune cells and fibroblasts in resistance to VEGF inhibitors.

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