Bevacizumab, sold under the trade name of Avastin, is a drug that is used to block angiogenesis and can be very effective in the treatment of cancers, such as colorectal, lung and kidney cancer. Angiogenesis is a normal and vital process of growth and development. This process is also responsible for injury healing and in granulation of tissues. However, this process also has the ability to transform dormant tumors into malignant one. Angiogenesis is the main cause of vascularization or abnormal vasculature.
The use of specific medication that inhibits this process or induces the formation of new blood vessels in the body can help to fight against cancer caused by angiogenesis. The presence of blood vessels where there should be none affects the functions of a tissue, and over presence also results in failure. Several diseases, such as ischemic chronic wounds result due to insufficient blood vessel stimulation and may be treated by supplying new nutrients to the site, in order to facilitate repair work. Other diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, may be treated by the expansion of blood vessels that disturb the normal physiological processes.
Avastin is a humanized antibody, which binds with VEGF to interact with the receptors Flt-1 and KDR on the surface of endothelial cells. This interaction leads to endothelial cell proliferation and new blood vessel formation in vitro models of angiogenesis. Avastin is effectively used in the treatment of colorectal cancer, non-squamous and non-small cell lung cancer.
Avastin: Effect on Different Types of Cancer
Avastin belongs to the group of medicines known as monoclonal antibodies. It is approved for the treatment of the following cancers:
* Breast Cancer
In 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had expressed its intention to withdraw its approval of the use of Avastin in the treatment of breast cancer. Research still has not proved that the drug can help increase the chances survival for breast cancer patients. However, many doctors continue to prescribe this treatment for breast cancer, in an off-the-label fashion.
* Lung Cancer
Avastin has demonstrated its efficacy in treating non-squamous and non-small cell lung cancer in combination with chemotherapy. It can also be used with carboplatin and paclitaxel and is considered to be a first-line treatment.
* Lung Cororectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer results due to the origination of cancerous cells in the tissues of the colon or rectum. The treatment for this disease is usually Avastin along with chemotherapy. It is approved for use with chemotherapy regimens that contain 5-fluorouracil to treat colon or rectal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is an approved medication for first-line and second-line treatment.
* Kidney Cancer
Avastin helps in treating renal cell carcinoma that has spread to other areas of the body and is used only in combination with another medication, known as interferon alpha.
However it is, not approved for the use in children. Off-label Avastin use includes the treatment of other types of cancer, including macular degeneration.