The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the approval of the targeted therapy Avastin® (bevacizumab) to include treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). The approval for kidney cancer specified that Avastin be used in combination with interferon alfa.
The kidneys are filled with tiny tubules that clean and filter the blood; this process removes waste and makes urine. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a malignancy involving these tubules of the kidney.
Avastin is a targeted therapy that blocks a protein known as VEGF. VEGF plays a key role in the development of new blood vessels. By blocking VEGF, Avastin deprives the cancer of nutrients and oxygen and inhibits its growth. Avastin’s effects on blood vessels may also improve the delivery of chemotherapy to the tumor.
In addition to its most recent approval for RCC, Avastin has also been approved for selected patients with advanced breast cancer, colorectal cancer, non–small cell lung cancer, or glioblastoma.
The study that led to the approval of Avastin for metastatic RCC was a Phase III clinical trial known as AVOREN. The study enrolled 649 patients with previously untreated metastatic RCC. Patients received treatment with either interferon alfa alone or interferon alfa plus Avastin. The addition of Avastin significantly improved progression-free survival. Progression-free survival was 5.4 months among patients treated with interferon alfa alone compared with 10.2 months among patients treated with interferon alfa plus Avastin. In spite of this improvement in progression-free survival, the addition of Avastin did not significantly improve overall survival.
The approval of Avastin for metastatic RCC provides another treatment option to patients with this disease.
Reference: Roche Media Release. Avastin approved in US for the most common type of kidney cancer. Available at: http://www.roche.com/media/media_releases/med-cor-2009-08-03.htm. Accessed August 5, 2009.
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