Avastin Approved for Recurrent Deadly Brain Cancer

The FDA has approved Avastin for the treatment of glioblastoma, a recurrent and deadly type of brain cancer. Clinical trials have shown that Avastin increases survival time among patients with recurrent glioblastoma, improving quality of life.

Avastin, given intravenously to patients with glioblastoma every two weeks, improved survival among patients studied, from three to nineteen months. The drug works by preventing cancerous tumors from growing new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis.

David Schiff, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Virginia Cancer Center took part in the Avastin research that lead to FDA approval of the drug for treatment of glioblastoma, a type of deadly brain cancer that affects approximately 10,000 people annually in the US alone. Dr. Schiff says Avastin is “not a cure, but this treatment does improve quality of life and prolong life. In our clinical trials, we saw 30 to 40 percent of patients with dramatic shrinkage of tumors.”

Glioblastoma usually recurs after initial treatment, making it a particularly deadly type of brain cancer. Less than twenty-one percent of patients survive the deadly brain cancer longer than six months after recurrence. Avastin is the first new treatment in more than ten years for recurrent glioblastoma.

The Phase II study that led to FDA approval of Avastin for recurrent glioblastoma enrolled 187 patients. Researchers from Duke University’s Brain Tumor Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center all took part in the Avastin clinical trials that included patients with progressions of glioblastoma after receiving radiation therapy and treatment with the anti-cancer drug temozolomide.

FDA approval of Avastin was announced by Genentech, the manufacturer of the drug. Avastin is currently used to treat colorectal cancer, approved in 2004. The approval of Avastin for treatment of recurrent glioblastoma by the FDA expands treatment options for patients diagnosed with the deadly brain cancer that is known to progress rapidly, and usually recurs following radiation and anti-cancer drug treatment.