Indiana University researchers have successfully concluded the first ever trial involving the inclusion of an antiangiogenic agent called Avastin in breast cancer therapy with Taxol, suggesting that this agent raises the treatment's effectiveness significantly.
Reporting their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researcher said that the study with Avastin showed the biggest improvement in metastatic breast cancer ever reported in a chemotherapy-based clinical trial.
They said that Avastin's inclusion in the treatment nearly doubled the time between initiation of chemotherapy for metastatic disease, and progression of the breast cancer tumours.
Dr. Kathy Miller, associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, revealed that the study looked at Taxol (paclitaxel), one of the standard agents for metastatic disease, with and without the addition of Avastin.
"This study not only achieved the longest progression-free survival in advanced disease, but the therapy achieved that improvement without adding to the day-to-day treatment burden and with only minor increases in toxicity," said Dr. Miller.
The study enrolled 722 women with metastatic disease from the US, Canada, Peru, and South Africa. It showed that treatment with Taxol and Avastin increased the period patients went without progression of their disease from 5.9 months to 11.8 months.
"The next step is to move Avastin into the initial treatment of breast cancer in hopes that it will prevent recurrence in the first place," said Dr. Miller.
Avastin, a human monoclonal antibody that acts to reduce the development of blood vessels that feed tumours, has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of colorectal and lung cancer.