April 3rd 2005
The improved survival associated with adding the anti-vascular endothelialgrowth factor (VEGF) monoclonal antibody bevacizumab(Avastin) to chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with metastaticcolorectal cancer demonstrates the importance of targeting collateralcells involved in tumor growth, progression, and metastatic spread.Based on the Gompertzian model of tumor growth, adding anti-VEGFagents to standard chemotherapy may be especially effective in earlystages of cancer. By improving chemotherapy delivery to the tumor andinhibiting regrowth between treatment cycles, anti-VEGF agents mayalter the growth pattern of a tumor such that it is more susceptible toeradication. These concepts also suggest that anti-VEGF agents couldenhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy given conventionally or ina dose-dense fashion. As such, it is possible that the effectiveness ofchemotherapy could be maintained or improved, even at lower cumulativedoses, which may improve its tolerability. Additionally, the effectsof anti-VEGF agents on metronomic chemotherapy, which is reportedto have antiangiogenic properties on its own, warrant further evaluation.Preclinical data demonstrate that cytostatic angiogenesis inhibitorsare potent complementary agents to metronomic chemotherapy,producing sustained complete regressions in some models of humancancer. Dose-dense and metronomic chemotherapy have in common ashortened dosing interval and resultant increased and/or prolongedexposure of tumor cells to chemotherapy in vivo. Optimizing the use ofanti-VEGF agents in the clinic demands further investigation of themost appropriate way to combine them with chemotherapy, particularlyregimens designed to exploit known tumor growth patterns andthose designed to target the endothelial cells involved inneovascularization with multiple agents.