New Agent Tested to Attack Blood Vessels that Feed Tumors
University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 18, 1998
Tumor growth beyond the size of a pinpoint is dependent on the formation of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. "Anti-angiogenesis" agents are being explored as a way to inhibit new blood vessel formation, and thus starve tumors of the blood supply they need to grow and spread.
The agent was engineered to identify and attack the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein produced by the new tumor blood vessels. In animal models, inhibition of VEGF by this anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody inhibits tumor growth. This phase I study assessed the safety of the compound on 25 adult patients with metastatic cancer. One patient with renal cell cancer showed a 39 percent reduction in tumor size, and 13 patients had stable disease ten weeks into treatment. Importantly, patients in the trial experienced very few side-effects from the treatment, and had no bleeding problems. The evidence for the safety of this approach allows for future clinical testing for efficacy.