April 7, 2009

Avastin effective in fighting brain tumors

A U.S. study indicates the use of the drug Avastin to treat a subgroup of recurrent brain tumors is safe and effective at delaying tumor progression.

The retrospective study conducted at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance involved 22 patients suffering from a recurrent malignant glioma known as alkylator-refractory anaplastic oligodendroglioma, for which there is no existing standard therapy.

Avastin, known generically as bevacizumab, is the first approved therapy designed to inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop and carry vital nutrients to a tumor. Currently the drug is only approved to treat certain metastatic colon cancers and non-small cell lung cancer.

Bevacizumab is an important drug for us, said Dr. Marc Chamberlain, author of the study. Of all of the targeted therapies for gliomas, this has been the most promising. And this is practice changing.

Therapy for treating recurrent high-grade gliomas is palliative since all patients with the high-grade tumors eventually die of their cancer. However, bevacizumab has the potential to be the best palliative treatment, said Chamberlain, a professor of neurology and neurological surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The study appears in the April 15 edition of the journal Cancer.