Avastin Active Against Recurrent Glioblastoma

Posted on October 14th, 2009 by

Treatment with the targeted therapy Avastin® (bevacizumab), either alone or in combination with the chemotherapy drug Camptosar® (irinotecan), appears to improve outcomes among patients with recurrent glioblastoma. The results of this Phase II clinical trial were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Primary brain cancer is cancer that originates in the brain. Glioblastoma is one of the most common and fatal types of primary brain cancer. It develops from the glial cells, which are the most abundant cells in the nervous system. Glial cells provide supportive functions that facilitate the work of neurons (cells that transmit impulses between the brain, spinal column, and nerves).

Current treatment for glioblastoma includes surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy. However, even with the most aggressive treatment available, many patients will survive less than one year after diagnosis. As such, researchers continue to evaluate new and innovative treatment strategies such as targeted agents.

Avastin is a targeted therapy that blocks a protein known as VEGF. VEGF plays a key role in the development of new blood vessels. By blocking VEGF, Avastin deprives the cancer of nutrients and oxygen and inhibits its growth. Avastin’s effects on blood vessels may also improve the delivery of chemotherapy to the tumor.

The safety and efficacy of Avastin among patients with recurrent glioblastoma was evaluated in a Phase II clinical trial. The study enrolled 167 patients who were assigned to be treated with Avastin alone or Avastin plus the chemotherapy drug Camptosar.

  • 6-month progression-free survival was 42.6% among patients treated with Avastin alone and 50.3% among patients treated with Avastin plus Camptosar.
  • A reduction in detectable cancer was observed in 28.2% of patients treated with Avastin alone and 37.8% of patients treated with Avastin plus Camptosar.
  • Median overall survival was 9.2 months among patients treated with Avastin alone and 8.7 months among patients treated with Avastin plus Camptosar.
  • Serious side effects occurred in 46.4% of patients treated with Avastin alone and 65.8% of patients treated with Avastin plus chemotherapy.

The researchers conclude that Avastin “is an active and important therapeutic agent in recurrent glioblastoma.”

Reference: Friedman HS, Prados MD, Wen PY et al. Bevacizumab alone and in combination with irinotecan in recurrent glioblastoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2009;27:4733-4740.

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