Adding Avastin to Chemotherapy Reduces Progression of Platinum Resistant Ovarian Cancer
By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 14 Jun 2012
Avastin, a drug already approved for use in several types of cancer, was shown in a phase III clinical study to effectively augment standard chemotherapy for the treatment of platinum resistant ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the seventh leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. Annually, an estimated 230,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer around the world and approximately 140,000 will die from the disease
Bevacizumab (Avastin) is an antibody made partially of a mouse protein that comes from Chinese hamster ovary cells. It was approved for use by the [US] Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2004 for the treatment of colorectal cancer. Avastin is now approved in Europe for the treatment of advanced stages of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, kidney cancer, and ovarian cancer, and is available in the US for the treatment of colorectal cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, and kidney cancer. In addition, Avastin is approved in the US and over 30 other countries for the treatment of patients with glioblastoma.
Avastin works by blocking the action of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in the process called angiogenesis. Avastin binds tightly to VEGF and blocks its activity so that it is no longer an effective stimulant. As a result, new blood vessels are not formed, and cancer tumors dependent on the development of new blood vessels stop growing and may even shrink. Thus, the drug does not work directly on the tumor, but prevents its growth by reducing its supply of blood. Avastin is the only antiangiogenic therapy available for the treatment of numerous advanced cancer types, which collectively cause over 2.5 million deaths each year.
The new clinical data - recently released by Roche (Basel, Switzerland) - has emerged from a study called AURELLA, a multicenter, randomized, open-label, two-arm phase III study of 361 women with platinum-resistant recurrent epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer.
Results of the study revealed that women treated with Avastin in conjunction with standard chemotherapy (weekly paclitaxel, topotecan, or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin) experienced reduced progression of the disease by 52% as compared to women receiving standard chemotherapy alone. In addition, patients receiving Avastin had a significantly higher rate of tumor shrinkage compared to women who received chemotherapy alone.
“Most women with advanced ovarian cancer will experience disease progression after treatment, and almost all of them will at some stage of the disease have cancer that is resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy which severely limits treatment options,” said Dr. Hal Barron, chief medical officer at Roche. “Adding Avastin to chemotherapy for women with advanced ovarian cancer in this study reduced their risk of cancer progression by half.”