Endothelial stem cells (ESCs) generate new blood vessels. The process is known as vasculogenesis when the endothelial stem cells originate from the mesoderm, and angiogenesis when they derive from already existing blood vessels. In adults, new blood vessels mainly arise through angiogenesis.
Dysregulated angiogenesis has been implicated in many diseases. In particular, thanks to the pioneering work of Folkman, cancer biologists have understood that tumors require angiogenesis to grow and angiogenesis inhibitors can act as potent adjuvants of common anticancer therapies. The angiogenetic potential of endothelial stem cells has also gained interest in cardiovascular research as a tool to restore circulation and viability in ischemic tissues.
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