Avastin is a humanized monoclonal antibody currently indicated for first-line and second-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC), first-line treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), second-line treatment of glioblastoma (GBM), first-line treatment of kidney cancer (RCC) and first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Because of its high efficacy across a number of cancers, Avastin is considered the “gold standard” of treatment for indications such as CRC. It is used in combination with chemotherapy. Avastin is being tested for numerous additional indications with high unmet medical needs, including ovarian cancer. Avastin is marketed in the United States by Genentech, in Japan by Chugai and in the rest of the world by Roche.
How Avastin Works
Avastin is a tumor-starving therapy designed to block the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is known to stimulate angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop. This protein, VEGF, is produced by normal cells and overproduced by cancer cells. VEGF is important for the formation of blood vessels. Tumors rely on blood vessels to get the nutrients and oxygen they need to survive. By blocking VEGF, Avastin can starve cancer of the food supply it needs to grow and spread.
Avastin was approved for:
- CRC – Approved for first-line and second-line treatment of metastatic CRC in combination with intravenous 5-fluorouacil based chemotherapy.
- NSCLC – Approved for the first-line treatment of unresectable, locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic non-squamous, NSCLC in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel in people who have not yet received chemotherapy for their metastatic disease.
- GBM – Approved for people with glioblastoma with progressive disease following prior therapy. The effectiveness of Avastin in GBM is based on tumor response. Currently, no data have shown whether or not Avastin improves disease-related symptoms or survival in people previously treated for GBM.
- RCC – Approved for people with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer and is always started with interferon alpha for a patient’s metastatic cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, kidney cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Kidney cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells that originate in the kidneys with no known cause. Nine out of ten people with kidney cancer have renal cell carcinoma.
- Breast Cancer – Approved in combination with paclitaxel, a type of chemotherapy, for treating patients with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer who have not yet received chemotherapy for their advanced disease. The effectiveness of Avastin in HER2-negative metastic breast cancer is based on how long a tumor remains uncontrolled. Currently, there is no data available showing that Avastin improves disease-related symptoms or survival in HER2-negative MBC. Avastin is not approved for people who have received prior anthracycline and taxane (chemotherapy) for their HER2-negative MBC.