M. Judah Folkman
Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 1992
M. Judah Folkman
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Harvard Medical School, USA
“for his discoveries which originated the concept and developed the field of angiogenesis research”.
Professor M. Judah Folkman’s hypothesis that solid tumors are angiogenesis dependent and his subsequent discoveries led to the development of the field of angiogenesis research. He and his associates developed the methodology by which angiogenesis is studied, including the first cloning and culture of capillary endothelial cells, the first in vivo bioassays and the first demonstration of angiogenesis in vitro. He elucidated the sequential steps of capillary blood vessel growth. To explain how these blood vessels develop three-dimensional tubular networks, he demonstrated a linkage between cell shape and growth control. This led Folkman and othersÑto study the mechanochemical mediation of gene expression by the interaction of cytoskeletal elements with insoluble molecules in the extracellular matrix, now a new field in itself.
He discovered the first angiogenesis inhibitors, the angiostatic steroids. This finding was followed by the demonstration that platelet factor 4 is an angiogenesis inhibitor as well as by the isolation of the first fungal-derived angiogenesis inhibitor. Clinical trials with angiogenesis inhibitors are now underway for life-threatening hemangiomas in children and have been approved for sight-threatening neovascularization of the cornea. Folkman´s studies continue to contribute new insights and seminal experiments which elucidate the mechanism of growth control in the microvascular system. In recent years his laboratory has further elucidated the concept of angiogenic disease and initiated molecular genetics of the switch to the angiogenic state in tumorgenesis.