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Avastin Shows Disappointing Results As an Initial Treatment for Glioblastoma


According to research led by a team at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the angiogenesis inhibitor drug, bevacizumab — better known as Avastin — failed to increase overall survival rates or to provide statistically significant progression-free survival for glioblastoma patients when used as a frontline treatment approach.

Mark Gilbert, M.D., a professor in MD Anderson's Department of Neuro-Oncology, presented the findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago on June 2, 2013. Although Avastin had shown some promise early on as a treatment for glioblastoma, the MD Anderson study was the first Phase III double-blind, randomized test aimed at understanding whether Avastin benefitted survival rates and whether its side effects impacted a treating patient's quality of life. The MD Anderson Study, financially supported by Avastin's maker, Genetech, and the National Cancer Institute, found no difference in overall survival rates, and no statistically significant progression-free survival, between those given the drug and those given the placebo. Further, when looking at molecular markers, the study could not identify a subgroup of newly-diagnosed patients who benefitted from taking Avastin. Of equal concern, the study found that Avastin was associated with a higher rate of specified side effects, including hypertension, bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and gastrointestinal perforation. In a field where there are too few treatments for glioblastoma, Dr. Gilbert remarked that it would not be beneficial, given its toxicities, to give Avastin as a first treatment to glioblastoma patients but that it could be reserved as a second-line or salvage therapy for recurrent glioblastoma.

For the MD Anderson News Release, see:
http://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/news-releases/2013/bevacizumab-offers-no-benefit.html

For the AP News Story on Reported Avastin Findings, see:
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/52073375/ns/health-cancer/t/avastin-fails-studies-new-brain-tumor-patients/