New Therapeutic Target Identified for Angiosarcoma

According to a story from, a genomics study called Angiosarcoma Project has successfully discovered that the inhibition of immune checkpoints could have therapeutic value for patients with angiosarcomas affecting the head, scalp, face, or neck. This discovery offers the potential for critical innovations for the treatment of this rare type of cancer.

About Angiosarcoma

Angiosarcoma is a type of rare cancer that affects the cells within the lining of blood or lymphatic vessels. It is possible for angiosarcoma to appear almost anywhere in the body where these cells are found, but it most typically appears around the head or neck near the skin surface. The precise cause of angiosarcoma has not been identified, but there are a number of risk factors, such as prior radiation therapy and swelling or damage of the lymph vessels. Very rare liver angiosarcoma has been linked to exposure to certain chemicals including arsenic and vinyl chloride. Symptoms can vary depending on where the cancer is located but may include pain (especially when an organ is affected), skin swelling, lesions that bleed easily, bruise-like lesions that get larger over time, or a raised, discolored area of skin. Treatment may include radiation, chemo, and surgery. To learn more about angiosarcoma, click here.

About The Research

Angiosarcoma is very rare, with only about 300 patients per year in the US. Due to its rarity, angiosarcoma is often fatal, and there is no universal standard of care that has been established. In the Angiosarcoma Project study, the researchers worked to discover which genes were often mutated in patients with angiosarcoma, and it was also determined that patients with angiosarcoma of the head and neck often had a greater number of mutations in comparison to the other patients that were participants in the study.

This information is useful because a lot of recent research has found that tumor with a lot of mutations are often more vulnerable to immune checkpoint inhibitors, which are already approved for the treatment of a variety of different cancers.

Early Evidence

There is also some limited evidence in which the use of these drugs to treat angiosarcoma has been successful. The researchers were able to locate a couple of patients who had received pembrolizumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, off-label to treat angiosarcoma of the head and neck. Both patients remain cancer free to this day. While more research is necessary, this treatment approach clearly has good potential.

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