Brain cancer drug study shows promising results

December 16th, 2007 - 11:30 am ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 16 (ANI): A study on the use of Avastin, a drug used to extend the survival of patients with the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme, has yielded significantly better results than it was expected.

The study was led by Tom Mikkelsen, M.D., a neuro-oncologist at Henry Ford Hospital and co-director of the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center.

This randomized Phase II study was mainly targeted towards patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), whose cancer had recurred after first- or second-line therapy.

It was revealed that more than a third who were treated with Avastin (bevacizumab) alone, plus more than half of those treated with Avastin in combination with the chemotherapy drug irinotecan, lived without further progression of the disease for a period of six months.

Besides, the researchers could not detect any new or unexpected adverse effects from the use of Avastin during the study.

This is very encouraging news, said Dr. Mikkelsen.

He added: “Historical estimates suggest that only 15 percent of patients with this aggressive type of brain cancer live without their cancer progressing within six months.

Although gliomas [fast-growing malignant brain tumors] are nearly always incurable, use of a drug like Avastin may help to buy precious time for patients, as well as to preserve their physical and mental functions longer than was previously possible.

Avastin is a therapeutic antibody designed to inhibit Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), a protein that fuels development of new blood vessels in a process known as angiogenesis, while maintaining existing tumor vessels.

Through binding to VEGF, Avastin acts as an anti-angiogenesis agent blocking the blood supply to tumors inhibitting their growth and metastasis.

The same process that makes gliomas so deadly may turn out to be exactly the same thing that makes it possible to slow down their progression, said Dr. Mikkelsen.

“This is a very significant advance in the battle to control these aggressive tumors because it could lead to treatment options where none existed previously for patients with recurrent disease, he explained.

Earlier Avastin was used in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer and lung cancer.

Avastin is currently being studied worldwide in more than 300 clinical trials for 20 different tumor types owing to its established success rate with these cancers,

With currently approved therapies, the chances of suppressing GBM are poor at less than 10 percent, said Dr. Mikkelsen.

He added: This type of targeted therapy using Avastin may prove to be the best new hope we have for helping patients with recurrent disease who previously had few options available to them.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the five-year survival
rate for patients with GBM is 3 percent, a figure that has not changed in more than 25 years.

The estimates of ACS reveal that there will be 20,500 new cases of brain cancer and 12,740 brain cancer deaths in 2007. (ANI)

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