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Blood Vessel Inhibitor Shows Promise Against Metastatic Thyroid Cancer

Posted Jul 07 2008 7:06pm

Thyroid cancer that has spread to distant sites has a poor prognosis, but an experimental drug that inhibits tumor blood vessel formation can slow disease progression in some patients, a research team led by investigators from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports in the July 3rd edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The investigational drug, motesanib diphosphate, is a VEGF inhibitor, a biologic agent that targets receptors on a protein known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is instrumental in angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), a process that allows tumors to grow and spread.

Study lead author Steve Sherman, M.D., chair and professor of M. D. Anderson’s Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, noted strong evidence that VEGF receptors play an important role in metastatic thyroid cancer, a disease with few treatment options.

“There is no standard accepted chemotherapy for advanced metastatic differentiated thyroid cancer, and response rates have typically been 25 percent or less,” Sherman said. “Most patients are not treated with systemic chemotherapy because the limited benefit rarely justifies the side effects. Treatment of thyroid cancer has been a completely unmet need.”

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