Maintenance Therapy with Tarceva® and Avastin® Delays Progression of Advanced Non–Small Lung Cancer

Posted on March 8th, 2009 by

Maintenance Therapy with Tarceva® and Avastin® Delays Progression of Advanced Non–Small Lung Cancer

Among patients with advanced non–small (NSCLC) cell lung cancer who have received initial treatment with Avastin® (bevacizumab) and chemotherapy, additional treatment (maintenance therapy) with Avastin plus Tarceva® (erlotinib) delayed cancer progression to a greater extent than Avastin alone. The results of this Phase III clinical trial (the ATLAS study) were made available in a Genentech press release.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and researchers continue to evaluate new approaches to treatment. Non–small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer.

Avastin is a targeted anticancer drug that slows or prevents the growth of new blood vessels by inhibiting a protein known as VEGF; this deprives the cancer of oxygen and nutrients. Through its effects on blood vessels, Avastin may also improve the delivery of chemotherapy to cancer. Avastin has been shown to improve treatment outcomes in selected patients with advanced colorectal, breast, and non–small cell lung cancer, and is also being evaluated in other types of cancer.

Tarceva is targeted anticancer drug that works by blocking a biological pathway referred to as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway. The EGFR pathway is involved in cell growth and replication and when mutated or altered, excessive replication of cells can occur. Tarceva has been shown to improve treatment outcomes in selected patients with advanced NSCLC or pancreatic cancer and is also being evaluated in the treatment of other types of cancer.

ATLAS is a global, Phase III clinical trial that enrolled 1,157 patients with locally advanced, recurrent, or metastatic NSCLC. Patients were initially treated with four cycles of Avastin in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy. The 768 patients who remained free of cancer progression and tolerated the initial treatment were then assigned to additional treatment (maintenance therapy) with either Avastin plus Tarceva or Avastin alone.

A planned interim analysis showed that maintenance therapy with Avastin plus Tarceva resulted in better progression-free survival than maintenance therapy with Avastin alone. The full results of this study will be submitted for presentation at a future medical meeting.

Reference: Genentech Press Release. Phase III study showed Tarceva in combination with Avastin as first-line maintenance therapy improved progression-free survival in advanced lung cancer. Available at: http://www.gene.com/gene/news/press-releases/display.do?method=detail&id=11827 (Accessed February 3, 2009).

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