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Conquest - Fall 2013


Diagnostic tool may help predict right patients for bevacizumab

By Laura Sussman, William Fitzgerald and Sandi Stromberg

A new test may help identify newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients more likely to benefit from bevacizumab, according to a Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, large, multicenter, Phase III trial.

“We wanted to identify those most likely to benefit from bevacizumab and use that information to develop a diagnostic tool that can predict the best patients for the drug,” says Erik Sulman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in Radiation Oncology and lead author on the study.

Erik Sulman, M.D., Ph.D.
Photo: Medical Graphics
and Photograph

As part of the trial, patients were required to submit specimens for molecular analysis. The umbrella study data also included molecular stratification that measured the degree of mesenchymal gene expression. These genes are known to function in cancer cell invasion and in establishing a new blood supply for the tumor, a function bevacizumab is designed to prevent.

Based on this association, researchers modeled a novel gene that, when expressed, predicts outcomes specific to those treated with bevacizumab. Plans are to determine whether this can be used for newly diagnosed glioblastoma.

“We’ll use data from the remaining patients on the trial to confirm these findings,” Sulman says. “We hope the test will be validated and used as a diagnostic tool to select patients for initial treatment with bevacizumab. Then, we plan to look beyond glioblastoma to see if it could benefit other tumor types currently treated or in clinical trials with the drug.” 

    Related story: A drug. A disease. Three studies. Four investigators.

See MD Anderson's Newsroom and Cancer Frontline for more information on these and other basic, translational and clinical research findings at MD Anderson.

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