From: Reuters
Published May 15, 2008 10:24 PM

Avastin improves brain cancer survival

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Results from a mid-stage trial showed treatment with Genentech Inc's Avastin improved survival for patients with recurring brain cancer, the company said on Thursday.

The Phase II trial compared Avastin, also known as bevicizumab, combined with irinotecan chemotherapy, to Avastin alone in patients with relapsed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer.

Genentech said results to be presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology show median survival was 9.2 months in the Avastin-only arm and 8.7 months in the Avastin and irinotecan arm.

As assessed by independent radiological review, 43 percent of GBM patients treated with Avastin alone and 50 percent of patients treated with Avastin in combination with chemotherapy lived without the disease advancing within six months.


"Avastin, both as a single agent and in combination with irinotecan chemotherapy, may improve survival compared to what would be normally expected for this devastating disease," Dr Timothy Cloughesy, director of the neuro-oncology program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a study investigator, said in a statement.

According to historical estimates, only 15 percent of patients with relapsed GBM would be expected to live without their cancer advancing within six months, he said.

Genentech said most side effects related to Avastin appeared to be similar to those reported in other studies, with the most common severe toxicities being high blood pressure and convulsion.

One patient in the Avastin and chemotherapy arm experienced a severe intracranial hemorrhage, the company said. There were two deaths associated with adverse events in the Avastin-only arm and one death associated with an adverse event in the Avastin-plus-chemotherapy arm.

Genentech said it plans to seek in the second half of this year Food and Drug Administration approval for Avastin as treatment for relapsed GBM. The company also said it expects to launch a Phase III study of Avastin in the first-line treatment of GBM this year.

The drug, designed to combat tumors by cutting off their blood supply, is already approved to treat colon, lung and breast cancer.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Braden Reddall)

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