NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
August 3, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 31 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Featured Clinical TrialFeatured Clinical Trial

Biological Therapy to Treat Kaposi's Sarcoma

Name of the Trial
Phase II Study of Bevacizumab in Patients With Classic or Epidemic Kaposi's Sarcoma (NCI-03-C-0110). See the protocol summary at

Dr. Robert Yarchoan Principal Investigator
Dr. Robert Yarchoan, NCI Center for Cancer Research

Why Is This Trial Important?
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a tumor that generally develops in multiple sites on the skin. It can also arise in the mouth or internal organs, including the intestinal tract and lungs. Classic KS usually occurs in older men of Jewish, Italian, or Mediterranean heritage. Until recently, KS was a rare cancer. Beginning in the early 1980s, however, there was a marked increase in KS as part of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. We now know that KS is caused by a herpesvirus called Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) or human herpesvirus-8.

Bevacizumab (Avastin®), a type of biological agent called a monoclonal antibody, blocks the formation and growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) by targeting a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Angiogenesis is necessary for all tumors to grow, but KS may be particularly vulnerable to agents that inhibit angiogenesis because blood vessel cells are the main component of KS lesions.

"Some cytotoxic drugs can control Kaposi's sarcoma," said Dr. Yarchoan, "but these are not curative, in part because they can't eradicate the virus that causes it. We thus need to develop effective therapies that can be tolerated for long periods of time. Bevacizumab is reasonably well-tolerated and targets the central feature of KS, the formation of new blood vessels."

Who Can Join This Trial?
Researchers seek to enroll 8-27 patients aged 18 or over who have been diagnosed with KS. See the full list of eligibility criteria for this trial at

Where Is This Trial Taking Place?
This study is taking place at the NIH Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Who to Contact
For more information, call the NCI Clinical Studies Support Center (CSSC) at 1-888-NCI-1937. The CSSC provides information about cancer trials taking place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. The call is toll free and confidential.

An archive of "Featured Clinical Trial" columns is available at