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Antiangiogenesis Treatment for Glioblastoma Multiforme: Challenges and Opportunities

Eric T. Wong and Steven Brem

Angiogenesis is a major hallmark of cancer cells, and glioblastomas are among the most angiogenic tumors. The cascade of angiogenesis is probably initiated by hypoxia, leading to the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). Both VEGF and bFGF have paracrine effects on endothelial cells, pericytes, or both, causing the formation of hyperpermeable tumor blood vessels. Advanced MRI techniques, such as dynamic contrast-enhanced, dynamic susceptibility, and arterial spin labeling MRI, have provided semiquantitative measurements of tumor vascular permeability and perfusion. A decrease in vascular permeability and perfusion can be detected after antiangiogenesis drug treatment, either with monoclonal antibody such as bevacizumab that sequesters VEGF, or small-molecule VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Therefore, antiangiogenesis therapies are being increasingly adopted for treating glioblastomas. However, caution must be exercised because neural stem cells are also sensitive to antiangiogenesis drugs and the combined effect of ionizing radiation. This article summarizes 30 years of laboratory and clinical research on glioblastoma angiogenesis and discusses its underlying biology, clinical trial results, vascular neuroimaging, and the potential side effects of antiangiogenesis treatment.

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Bevacizumab for Recurrent Glioblastoma Multiforme: A Meta-Analysis

Eric T. Wong, Shiva Gautam, Christopher Malchow, Melody Lun, Edward Pan, and Steven Brem

The FDA's approval of bevacizumab for recurrent glioblastoma on May 9, 2009, was based on the significant response rate and clinical benefits seen from randomized phase II studies. Large-scale phase III data are unavailable. In an effort to determine benchmark efficacy parameters for bevacizumab and analyze its dose–response effect, the authors performed a meta-analysis of 15 studies published from 2005 to 2009, involving 548 patients with a median age of 53 years (range, 5–74 years), that used bevacizumab to treat recurrent glioblastoma. Median overall survival was 9.3 months (95% CI, 7.9–10.6 months). The respective 6-month progression-free and 6-month overall survival rates were 45% (95% CI, 34%–57%) and 76% (95% CI, 69%–84%), respectively. Median time to tumor progression was 6.1 months (95% CI, 4.2–8.1 months). The response analysis yielded a 6% complete response (95% CI, 2%–9%), 49% partial response (95% CI, 37%–61%), and 29% stable disease (95% CI, 20%–38%). No difference was seen in bevacizumab dose–response benefit between 5 mg/kg and 10 to 15 mg/kg. The efficacy benchmarks from this meta-analysis did not differ from those of the recently published randomized phase II studies. The lack of a dose–response effect would require confirmation in a prospectively conducted clinical trial.