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Bevacizumab is sold under the brand name Avastin. Bevacizumab is a tumor-starving (anti-angiogenic) therapy, designed to block a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. Normal cells make VEGF, but some cancer cells make too much VEGF. Blocking VEGF may prevent the growth of new blood vessels, including normal blood vessels and blood vessels that feed tumors.

Unlike chemotherapy that attacks the cancer cells, the purpose of Avastin is to block the blood supply that feeds the tumor. This can stop the tumor from growing.

Bevacizumab was the first available angiogenesis inhibitor in the United States.

Bevacizumab is indicated for the treatment of colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, glioblastoma, renal cell cancer, epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and primary peritoneal cancer. It is not indicated for adjuvant treatment of colorectal cancer. Vascular targeting therapies are aimed at inhibiting tumor neovascularization and are not directly cytotoxic; therefore, bevacizumab is typically used in combination with traditional cytotoxic treatment modalities.

Bevacizumab has been studied as an intravitreal injection for diabetic retinopathy and the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as a cost-effective alternative when patients are not responsive to other therapies.

Bevacizumab was approved for medical use in the United States in 2004. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system. It is listed for its use in treating eye disease.