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Download full programme (PDF)
For further information,
please contact:

Carol Cheneval
Coordination Symposium
T: +41 22 704 36 31
F: +41 22 704 36 37

Foundation (LJF)

Chemin Rieu 17
P.O. Box 270
1211 Geneva 17
T: +41 22 704 36 36
F: +41 22 704 36 37


Kari Alitalo

University of Helsinki

Wednesday, October 23, 16:40 - 17:05

Keynote lecture: Biological Functions and Therapeutic Potential of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors

Research Interests

Because the growth of new blood vessels, or angiogenesis, is involved in tumour progression, anti-angiogenic agents are currently employed in tumour therapy. Although these treatments have been successful in the treatment of many types of solid tumours, most patients are either refractory or eventually acquire resistance to anti-angiogenic therapeutics. A combination of angiogenesis inhibitors based on solid knowledge of the major interacting angiogenesis signalling pathways could be used to significantly advance the efficacy of tumour therapy. – The idea of pro-angiogenic therapy is to grow new functional blood vessels and thus restore blood flow to ischemic tissue. In addition to angiogenesis of blood capillaries, growth of larger arterioles/arteries (arteriogenesis, or collateral formation) is especially beneficial for this goal. Several attempts have been made to stimulate angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in tissue ischemia, with limited success. One of the obstacles has been the property of angiogenic growth factors to promote vascular leakage, leading to tissue oedema and fibrin deposition. Despite intensive efforts, growth factors suitable for angiogenic therapy have not yet provided significant help in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. – A better understanding of the biology of the vascular growth factors can facilitate therapeutics development for cardiovascular diseases. – The growth of lymphatic vessels, lymph angiogenesis, is actively involved in a number of pathological processes including tissue inflammation and tumour dissemination but is insufficient in patients suffering from lymphedema; a debilitating condition characterized by chronic tissue oedema and impaired immunity. Lymph angiogenic growth factors provide possibilities to treat these diseases.


Dr. Kari Alitalo discovered lymph angiogenesis and its regulators. He isolated several novel endothelial receptor tyrosine kinases and showed that some of these are important in tumor angiogenesis. A significant achievement by Dr. Alitalo was the isolation and characterization of the first lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-C, its receptor VEGFR-3, and lymphatic endothelial cells, opening up the lymphatic vascular system to molecular analysis. He discovered mechanisms of lymphedema and devised molecular therapies for its treatment. His demonstrated of VEGF-C induced tumor angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, intralymphatic tumor growth, and VEGF-C association with tumor metastasis and its inhibition by blocking the VEGFR-3 signal transduction pathway.