Avastin May Have Role in Early Breast Cancer Treatment

Posted By on February 17th, 2012 at 9:00 am | 2 comments.

by Barbara C. Good, PhD

When government approval for the drug AvastinTM  (bevacizumab) was revoked for the treatment of advanced breast cancer last November, there were protests from women who had received it and were convinced the drug helped lessen their disease or even kept them alive.  Now two studies, one from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) in Pittsburgh and the other from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, have demonstrated that this drug may have a role to play in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer.

Avastin in these studies was used before surgery in women whose disease had not spread.  In both studies, the women who received it had lower rates of cancer once surgery was performed.  The side effects of this drug can be serious, and additional studies are continuing to see if these results hold up.  Tissue samples from these studies are also being examined to determine if women whose tumors contain particular genetic characteristics may respond more successfully to the drug.

For additional information about these studies, click here.

Abstracts of the studies as they appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine can be found here and here.




2 Responses

  1. Cheryl says:

    I was so proud to be part of that study. At diagnosis I had a 2cm+ with fingerlings, grade three tumor, trip. negative. The day of y second round of chemo with Avastin the tumor was no longer palpable by my oncologist.

  2. Gregory Pawelski says:

    Avastin is thought to work by blocking the formation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) that feed tumors. This is what is actually measured with the AngioRx assay, which simultaneously measures direct anti-tumor and anti-vascular activity within the three dimensional (3D) tumor cell clusters. The test is capable of discriminating anti-tumor effect from anti-angiogenic effect in the same mixed-cell population. Within 24 hours of VEGF inhibition, endothelial cells have been shown to shrivel, retract, fragment and die by apoptosis.

    It is the only known technology which discriminates the effects of different types of anti-angiogenic drugs within the same class of drugs and within different classes of drugs, and is capable of identifying synergistic effects among different angiogenic and non-angiogenic drugs in specific drug combinations. And there are a number of new classes of drugs that target VEGF, at the protein level (Avastin), at the tyrosine kinase level (Nexavar, Sutent) and at the intracellular metabolic pathway mTOR (Afinitor, Torisel).

    Without a marker that identifies those most likely to benefit, you’re just treating everybody, and the subgroup that gets the benefit gets diluted out. Biologic therapy is on the ascendancy. The possibility of eradicating cancer by selective destructon of tumor blood vessels may represent an attractive therapeutic avenue. It’s going to take combination antivascular therapy to make a difference. The AngioRx assay is the most promising technology on the therapeutic horizon. And, on top of that, you can put a vascular disrupting agent in combination with an antiangiogenesis agent.

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