Copper is believed to be the switch that turns on the angiogenesis process in tumor cells. It has been observed that abnormally high serum copper levels are found in patients with many types of progressive tumors.
According to the University of Michigan Oncology Journal, many studies have shown copper to be an obligatory cofactor in the process of angiogenesis. Growth factors in angiogenesis require binding to copper in order to function properly. As stated in Steven Brem's research at the Moffitt Cancer Center, linked below, "copper-binding molecules (ceruloplasmin, heparin, and tripeptide glycyl-histadyl-lysine) are non-angiogenic when free of copper, but they become angiogenic when bound to copper."
On January 21, 2000, the University of Michigan reported that researchers had successfully stopped the growth and spread of cancer by depriving the tumors of the copper supply they need to form new blood vessels. This study was done with a small group of patients with advanced cancer. A larger, 100 patient, Phase II trial is currently underway. Researchers are using an inexpensive compound called tetrathiomolybate (TM) to lower the serum copper levels in patients with cancer.
Click on links below to learn more:
http://www.med.umich.edu/opm/newspage/copper.htm This is a news release dated 1/20/2000 from the University of Michigan regarding copper, cancer and tetrathiomolybdate (TM).
http://aacr.edoc.com/ccr/v6n1/df000001.html This is the Abstract to the research paper dated January, 2000, authored by George J. Brewer, M.D., & R. D. Dick, et al., regarding copper and TM. Dr. Brewer, a University of Michigan human genetics professor and researcher, originated the work on the use of TM and cancer.
http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v283n8/full/jqu00000-3.html This is from an article in the Journal of the American Medical Assoc. dated 2/23/2000, regarding copper and cancer.
http://www.cancer.med.umich.edu/news/moj99sp4.htm This is an article published in the Michigan Oncology Journal, Spring, 1999, covering angiogenesis and its relationship to copper. See the sub-heading The Role of Copper in Angiogenesis.
http://www.moffitt.usf.edu/pubs/ccj/v6n5/article2.htm This is a research paper published in 1999, authored by Steven Brem, M.D., of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. See Table 2(showing copper as a trace element), Table 7 and the discussion concerning copper under the subtitle Copper Antagonists/Chelators.