Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Alitalo, Kari
Location University of Helsinki
Primary Field Medical Genetics, Hematology and Oncology
Secondary Field Cellular and Developmental Biology
 Election Citation
Alitalo was the first to identify a growth factor and receptor for lymphatic vessels. He accomplished lymphatic vessel regeneration and discovered receptor mutations in hereditary lymphedema. These discoveries have revitalized lymphatic vessel research and are likely to lead to advances in the treatment of edema and prevention of lymphatic metastasis.
 Research Interests
Dr. Alitalo is best known for his work on oncogenes and mechanisms of angiogenesis. He discovered lymphangiogenesis its regulation by growth factors, receptors and signaling mechanisms. He has isolated and characterized several tyrosine kinases including the endothelial receptor tyrosine kinase Tie1, which is related to the Tie2 receptor for angiopoietins and implicated in tumor angiogenesis. He cloned the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor-3, purified and cloned its ligand VEGF-C, and showed that the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 pathway is required for angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. He was also central in the cloning and characterization of the VEGF-B. His laboratory is curerntly studying its function as a coronary vascular growth factor and metabolic regulator in the heart. Studies in his laboratory have demonstrated 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. The inhibitors of these pathways from his laboratory have now entered phase I clinical trials. He is also interested in molecular therapies for lymphedema, which are entering clinical trials. Recent work in his laboratory heve also led to studies of the homeobox transcription factor Prox1 in colon carcinoma stem cells and tumor progression.

 
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