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Br J Cancer. 2008 Jul 8;99(1):93-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604429. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

Combined effects of bevacizumab with erlotinib and irradiation: a preclinical study on a head and neck cancer orthotopic model.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Centre Antoine-Lacassagne, Nice, France.


Clinical benefit has been demonstrated in patients with head and neck tumours receiving an anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) agent in combination with radiotherapy (RT). Recent preclinical and clinical studies suggest beneficial effects from combining anti-angiogenic drugs with RT. To investigate the effect of combining these approaches, we evaluated in vivo the anti-tumour efficacy of the anti-angiogenic compound bevacizumab, a highly specific monoclonal antibody directed against the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), erlotinib, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and irradiation given alone and in combination. Investigations were performed using a VEGF-secreting human head and neck tumour cell line, CAL33, with a high EGFR content, injected as orthotopic xenografts into the mouth floor of nude mice. Three days after tumour cell injection, bevacizumab (5 mg kg(-1), 5 days a week, i.p.), erlotinib (100 mg kg(-1), 5 days a week, orally) and irradiation (6 Gy, 3 days a week) were administered alone and in combination for 10 days. As compared with the control, concomitant administration of drugs produced a marked and significant supra-additive decrease in tumour mass; the addition of irradiation almost completely abolished tumour growth. The drug association markedly reduced the number of metastatic nodes and the triple combination significantly reduced the total number of pathologically positive lymph nodes as compared with controls. The RT-induced proliferation, reflected by Ki67 labelling, was reduced to control level with the triple combination. Radiotherapy induced a strong and very significant increase in tumour angiogenesis, which was no longer observed when combined with erlotinib and bevacizumab. The efficacy of the combination of bevacizumab+erlotinib and RT may be of clinical importance in the management of head and neck cancer patients.

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