The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin (bevacizumab) as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
Avastin has been shown to extend patients' lives by approximately 5 months when given as a combination treatment with standard chemotherapy.
Avastin works by targeting and inhibiting the function of "vascular endothelial growth factor" (VEGF) which stimulates new blood vessel formation. When VEGF is targeted and bound to Avastin, it cannot stimulate the growth of blood vessels, and denies the tumor blood, oxygen and other nutrients needed for growth.
Angiogenesis inhibitors such as Avastin have been studied, first in the laboratory and then in patients, for 3 decades with the hope they might prevent the growth of cancer. This is the first such product that has been proven to delay tumor growth and more importantly, significantly extend the lives of patients.
|Avastin targets the function of "vascular endothelial growth factor".|
The safety and efficacy of Avastin was primarily shown in a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of more than 800 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Approximately half these patients received the standard chemotherapy combination, and the other half received Avastin once every 2 weeks in addition to chemotherapy.
The patients who received the combination survived 5 months longer than patients who received chemotherapy alone. The overall response rate to the treatment was 45% compared to 35% for the control arm of the trial.