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Cancer Advance: Treatment combinations stall colorectal cancer

Two experimental drugs can buy precious months of remission in some people with colorectal cancer that has spread to other tissues, new research shows. While both drugs are synthetic antibodies, they take distinctly different approaches to fighting the malignancy.

In one trial, scientists show for the first time that patients can benefit from a compound that blocks blood vessel growth, also called angiogenesis, and thus disrupts a tumor's nutrient supply. In the other trial, a separate substance seems to reawaken a signal within colorectal cancer cells that directs them to commit suicide.

The first drug, bevacizumab, works by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor, a protein that directs blood vessel formation in growing tissues, including tumors. The researchers randomly assigned 403 people with untreated colorectal cancer to get bevacizumab, while 412 similar patients received a placebo. Both groups were also given standard chemotherapy.

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