Drug Detail

Information about Avastin

Generic Name
Brand Name (US)
Genentech Bio-oncology
Drug Type
monoclonal antibody
Approval Status
Approved for a non-GIST cancer
Colon Cancer
Overall Strategy
GIST Tumor Based
Block tumor blood vessel growth
Drug Category
VEGF inhibitor (antibody)

Bevacizumab (Avastin™) was the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)- approved biological therapy designed to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels to tumors. It is manufactured by Genentech, South San Francisco, Calif. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has been involved in the clinical development of bevacizumab in several tumor types under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Genentech.

Tumor cells require a constant supply of blood to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to survive. As a tumor grows, it signals the need for more blood by secreting growth factors that trigger the formation of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. Of the many growth factors implicated in the formation of new blood vessels, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been identified as one of the most potent protein supporting tumor growth. In addition to affecting tumor growth, VEGF promotes formation of new capillaries surrounding the tumor, providing increased nutrients for growth and a convenient route for tumor cells to spread throughout the body.

Bevacizumab was developed to inhibit VEGF. It was designed to cause the destruction of the blood vessel networks that feed cancer cells as the lack of a constant source of blood may slow tumor growth. Bevacizumab is an antibody -- a type of targeting device produced by the immune system that can locate and bind to a specific protein. In the case of bevacizumab, it is a monoclonal (cells derived from a single common ancestor) antibody that binds to and inhibits VEGF.

Caution: Sevaral studies of bevacizumab plus sunitinib (Sutent) have been halted due to reports of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia (MAHA). See the link below.