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Lung Cancer Patients Living Longer With Targeted Drugs

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By Elizabeth Whittington

Avastin is one of a new class of drugs that works by targeting the newly formed blood vessels that develop around tumors, a process called antiangiogenesis. Recent studies have seen positive survival results in colon cancer and now lung cancer.

Originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for colon cancer, Avastin is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein essential in the angiogenesis process. The drug prevents the growth of new vessels to the tumor by binding to VEGF, which in turn prevents VEGF from binding to its receptor site on the cell’s surface. By blocking this mechanism, Avastin essentially starves the tumor of its blood and oxygen supply.

Roy Herbst, MD, chief of thoracic oncology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, calls it a breakthrough in lung cancer therapy.

“It’s now being shown to enhance chemotherapy and improve survival for colorectal cancer and now lung cancer,â€

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