Dr. Josef Steiner
The Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Foundation

1994 9. Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Prize

Moses Judah Folkman M.D.

Moses Judah Folkman M.D.

Professor of Anatomy

and Cellular Biology

Children’s Hospital

Medical Centre

Harvard Medical School

Boston, MA 02115


Dr. Folkman was the first to demonstrate that progressive tumor growth depends upon continuous recruitment by a tumor of new blood vessels from the host. The endothelial cells of these capillary blood vessels manufacture many powerful growth factors which further stimulate the growth of tumor cells. He discovered the first of several special angiogenic proteins which tumors elaborate to stimulate blood vessel growth. lf a tumor is unable to produce angiogenic proteins, its growth is usually restricted to a very small size. Most human cancers are not angiogenic when they originate and may exist as small tumors for several years without causing symptoms and without being detectable, before some of their cells "switch" on angiogenic activity. Once a tumor becomes angiogenic, it starts to grow. The new blood vessels also become conduits for tumor cells to enter the main circulation and take up residence in remote organs (i.e. metastases).

Dr. Folkman also discovered new molecules which inhibit angiogenesis. Some of these angiogenesis inhibitors circulate in the blood at very low levels; others are produced by fungi. When mice are treated with these non-toxic drugs, abnormal blood vessel growth is suppressed and the growth of tumors and metastases are inhibited. These and other angiogenesis inhibitors may serve as powerful new drugs for treating cancer.