Drug insight: antiangiogenic therapies for gastrointestinal cancers--focus on monoclonal antibodies

Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 May;5(5):250-67. doi: 10.1038/ncpgasthep1097. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


Tumor angiogenesis is strongly induced by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is overexpressed in most human gastrointestinal cancers. VEGF overexpression is known to be associated with poor prognosis and survival in patients with various solid tumors. The humanized monoclonal anti-VEGF antibody bevacizumab (Avastin, Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA) is a prototypic antiangiogenic compound, and has proven therapeutic benefit combined with conventional chemotherapy-namely, significantly improved progression-free survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Bevacizumab is the only anti-VEGF antibody that has been approved by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. Several ongoing clinical studies are evaluating the potential of bevacizumab therapy for other gastrointestinal cancers, in combination with chemotherapy, other targeted therapies and/or radiation. Soluble chimeric receptors, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and monoclonal antibodies against VEGF and molecular targets in the integrin and Delta-like protein 4-Notch pathways are being developed. As tumors acquire resistance to anti-VEGF therapy, further development of antiangiogenic and vascular targets and therapy is warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Bevacizumab
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors / drug effects


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Bevacizumab