Anti-cancer drug damages brain vessels

Feb 11, 2008

New research may help explain why an anti-cancer drug causes potentially fatal brain inflammation in certain patients. Scientists at Harvard Medical School mimicked the drug's activity in mice and found that it damaged the cell lining that prevents fluid from leaking from the spinal cord into the brain. The results will be published online on Feb. 11 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) is used to treat advanced bowel cancer in combination with chemotherapy. This drug targets a protein called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) that stimulates blood vessel growth. Avastin inhibits the growth of tumors by cutting off their blood supply, which deprives them of oxygen and other nutrients.

In a small percentage of patients, however, Avastin can cause neurological side effects ranging from headaches and blurry vision to potentially fatal seizures and brain swelling.

The new study reveals that VEGF normally protects the specialized cells that create a seal between the brain and spinal column and thus prevent fluid from leaking into the brain. When VEGF was blocked in mice, these cells died and the animals developed brain swelling. The authors suspect that Avastin’s side effects in humans may be caused by a similar phenomenon. Why these symptoms occur in only a few patients is not yet known.

Source: Journal of Experimental Medicine

Explore further: FDA OKs Cubist antibiotic for serious infections

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New therapy found for rare lung disorder

Mar 16, 2011

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have found that the FDA-approved drug sirolimus, used primarily to prevent rejection in organ transplant patients, stabilized ...

Biomarkers predict brain tumor's response to therapy

Jun 23, 2009

A report in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, highlights a new biomarker that may be useful in identifying patients with recurrent glioblastoma, or brain tumors, who would respon ...

Recommended for you

FDA OKs Cubist antibiotic for serious infections

5 hours ago

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine to fight complex infections in the abdomen and urinary tract, the fourth antibiotic the agency has approved since May.

Xtoro approved for swimmer's ear

Dec 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—Xtoro (finafloxacin otic suspension) eardrops have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat swimmer's ear, clinically known as acute otitis externa.

Drug interaction identified for ondansetron, tramadol

Dec 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—In the early postoperative period, ondansetron is associated with increased requirements for tramadol consumption, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Dec. 10 in Anaesthesia.

New system targets germs in donated blood plasma

Dec 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—A new system designed to eliminate germs in donated blood plasma and reduce the risk of transmitting a plasma-borne infection has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.