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Avastin-Tarceva combo provides 'one-two' punch against lung cancer

Results of the first clinical trial to combine two new targeted cancer drugs suggest that the combination may provide a powerful "one-two punch" against lung cancer, the nation's leading cancer killer.

The work, led by researchers at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was presented at the 40th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in New Orleans.

Tumors were controlled among 85 percent of the 40 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who entered the Phase I/II trial of a combined regimen of bevacizumab (Avastin TM) and erlotinib (Tarceva TM).

The response rate proportion of patients whose tumors shrank in size by more than half was about 20 percent, while median survival was 12.5 months. This compares to about 10 percent response and between six and eight months median survival with traditional therapy or erlotinib alone, said Alan Sandler, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and director of the lung cancer clinical program at Vanderbilt-Ingram.

The treatment resulted in only mild side effects, including rash and diarrhea, and the drugs did not appear to interact adversely with one another, the investigators report.

"The anti-tumor activity was encouraging," said Sandler, who presented the research at the meeting. "These findings suggest not only that combining these two agents is feasible, but that this approach may provide a one-two punch against tumors that should be further examined in larger clinical trials."

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing more than 157,000 people each year, more than the next four leading cancers (colorectal, breast, prostate and pancreas) combined. About 85 percent of all lung cancers are non-small cell cancers, and nearly half of these patients are diagnosed with advanced disease and receive only chemotherapy or supportive care,
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Contact: Cynthia Floyd Manley
cynthia.manley@vanderbilt.edu
615-430-8320
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
5-Jun-2004


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