An international clinical study has found that a combination of Avastin and Taxotere slows the progression of advanced breast cancer. Avastin stems the blood supply to tumors, while Taxotere is a cell division blocker.
In earlier studies, Avastin (a trade name for the drug bevacizumab) added to Taxol (paclitaxel) -- similar to Taxotere (docetaxel) -- doubled the survival rate of women with advanced breast cancer that had metastasized. Taxol and Taxotere are used in chemotherapy.
The phase-three study -- the last step before a treatment can be marketed -- is the first in the United States to evaluate Avastin-Taxotere, which is used in Europe, Asia and Australia, while the US has been combining Avastin with Taxol.
The study, headed by David Miles, professor and medical oncologist at the Mount Vernon Cancer Center, and unveiled at the 44th annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, involved 736 women in 24 countries for one year.
It found tumor reduction in 44.4 percent of patients treated with Taxotere and a placebo, against 55.2 percent for those treated with Taxotere and a small dose of Avastin, and 63.1 percent for those treated with Taxotere and a high dose of Avastin.
"This study shows the antiangiongenic approach to treating breast cancer is effective, regardless of which taxane drug it is combined with," said Miles.
"We found it does not add a great deal of toxicity of chemotherapy, which should be reassuring to physicians recommending this course of treatment," he added.
Avastin is sold by Swiss laboratory Roche and US pharmaceutical Genentech. In 2007, the companies sold 2.3 billion dollars worth of the product.