A new study in Radiology from UCLA clinicians and scientists successfully tested a strategy to split patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) into Avastin-responsive and Avastin-unresponsive groups. GBM is an extremely aggressive brain tumor with a poor prognosis. Avastin, or bevacizumab, is a mono-clonal antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a blood vessel-stimulating growth factor. Avastin increases survival in patients with recurrent GBM, but not all patients respond to the drug.
The researchers hypothesized that tumors with more necrosis, or cell death, would respond better to Avastin treatment. They could identify these tumors using the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) from MRI scans of the patients enrolled in the study.
From the press release:
“When we realized that high levels of VEGF are linked to greater cell death and increased water movement, we were able to predict the patients’ response to Avastin before they began treatment,” Pope said. “We were correct 70 percent of the time. Previously, identifying which patients would respond was like flipping a coin. This is a huge improvement.”
The research finding presents clear clinical benefits to the patient, Pope said. “Knowing this information ahead of time will help doctors personalize therapy for each patient and decrease exposure to side effects,” he noted.