Anti-VEGF From Genentech, Inc.
This is an article from the Indianapolis Star regarding Anti-VEGF.
Anti-VEGF, is on our list of Anti Angiogenesis Drugs.
Cancer drug passes safety test
Scientists emphasize it is not a cure and still must undergo clinical
By Eric B. Schoch
INDIANAPOLIS (May 18, 1998) -- An experimental drug that
may someday attack cancer by starving tumor cells has passed
initial human safety tests, an Indiana University researcher said
Now scientists must determine whether it actually will help them
Michael S. Gordon, associate professor at the IU School of
Medicine, said the compound, called anti-VEGF, produced no
serious side effects among 25 patients who received various
doses of the drug.
Gordon was the lead researcher for the study. Patients also
participated at M.D. Anderson Center in Houston and City of
Hope Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Anti-VEGF is one of several compounds that researchers hope
will fight cancer by restricting tumor cells' ability to develop the
blood vessels they need for rapid growth.
A glowing report in The New York Times about two other such
drugs recently set off a frenzy of stories in the news media, a
barrage of calls from cancer patients to physicians, and a
spectacular jump in the stock of a small biotechnology company.
Ever since, scientists have been extremely cautious when talking
about such drugs, because the concept of cutting off tumors'
blood supply has been tested only in mice. Many promising
cancer treatments have failed to make the transition from mice to
"The reality is, it's another tool, but it's a tool very, very early in
its development. What impact it will have is extremely unclear at
this time," Gordon said in an interview last week.
Francis J. Castellino, a biochemistry professor at the University
of Notre Dame whose research contributed to the identification
of one of the drugs under study, said "everybody ought to calm
down a little bit and let the science go."
Gordon reported the results of the anti-VEGF test, known as a
Phase 1 trial, at the annual meeting of the American Society of
Clinical Oncologists in Los Angeles.
Anti-VEGF, which was developed by Genentech Inc., blocks
the activity of a compound that helps the stimulate the growth of
new blood vessels. Cancer cells need the development of new
blood vessels in order to grow and spread.
According to the National Cancer Institute, at least 11 drugs that
could affect blood vessel formation and thus help treat cancer
are in human testing.
Those compounds are called anti-angiogenesis drugs because
they block or slow the process of angiogenesis -- creation of
Generally, tumors are among the few causes for adults to create
large quantities of new blood vessels. Other causes include
wound healing and pregnancy, Gordon said, which could make
anti-angiogenic drugs inappropriate for people with those
Some of potential anti-angiogenic drugs might actually kill
tumors, while others might just prevent further growth, requiring
patients to take them indefinitely.
"I think there are lots of patients for whom that would be
acceptable, given the alternative," Gordon said.
Phase 1 drug trials are set up to determine whether promising
drugs are toxic when given to human beings. Scientists keep an
eye out for signs the drug is helping the patients fight their illness
-- and there were signs that anti-VEGF was shrinking tumors --
but the safety tests provide no real evidence that a drug works,
A May 3 article in The New York Times touted progress made
by Dr. Judah Folkman of Boston Children's Hospital testing two
compounds targeting tumors' blood supply -- angiostatin and
endostatin. But those drugs have been tested only in mice.
While mice are useful test subjects for early drug research, they
process potential drugs differently than humans. Moreover,
angiostatin and endostatin were tested on human cancers that
were transplanted into the animals, not naturally occurring
"They're good experiments, they're the best we can do,"
Castellino said. But, he added, "That's the not the way a human
Castellino said he's been flooded with electronic mail messages
from people who fear they have suddenly "lost the lottery"
because science has discovered a cancer cure, but too late for
At this point, he said, researchers have enough results to warrant
setting up clinical trials -- tests on humans.
"But should we be talking about cancer cures? I think maybe
we're stretching the point.
"I don't think anybody should feel 'hey, I've missed the lottery."'