, Volume 155, Issue 1, pp 33-40
Date: 08 Nov 2012

Targeted therapy with bevacizumab and erlotinib tailored to the molecular profile of patients with recurrent glioblastoma. Preliminary experience

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Advances in comprehension of molecular biology of glioblastoma (GBM) have led to the development of targeted therapies. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a targeted therapeutic approach in which administration of bevacizumab and erlotinib was tailored on the molecular profile of recurrent GBM.


We prospectively enrolled ten adult patients suffering from recurrent GBM who had undergone surgical resection and standard chemo-radiotherapy. Tumor tissue was assessed for the expression of EGFRvIII and MGMT promoter methylation by RT-PCR, and for PTEN and VEGF expression by immunohistochemistry. Normal PTEN status was required for inclusion. Patients with VEGF overexpressing tumors (10/10) were treated with bevacizumab (10 mg/kg iv every 2 weeks in 6-week cycles); patients whose tumor expressed EGFRvIII (4/10) added erlotinib (150 mg/day orally; 300 mg/day if on enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs). Therapy was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Primary endpoints of the study were response rate (RR), 6-month progression-free survival (PFS-6), and safety profile.


The RR and PFS-6 were 100 % (4/4) and 50 % (3/6) in patients treated with bevacizumab+erlotinib (n = 4) and bevacizumab (n = 6), respectively. In the whole cohort (n = 10), RR and PFS-6 were both 70 % (7/10); median PFS and overall survival (OS) were 8.0 (3.0–31.0) and 9.5 (5.0–31.0) months, respectively. No grade 3/4 adverse events were observed; three patients treated with bevacizumab+erlotinib displayed grade 1/2 rash not requiring dose reduction; one patient treated with bevacizumab developed intratumoral hemorrhage requiring treatment discontinuation.


To our knowledge, this is the first study on recurrent GBM in which administration of bevacizumab and erlotinib was tailored on the molecular profile of the patient’s tumor. Although we treated a limited number of patients, we obtained significantly higher RR and PFS-6 than those reported in a previous trial lacking molecular tumor analysis.

Quintino Giorgio D’Alessandris and Nicola Montano contributed equally to the work.
Roche Spa provided bevacizumab for two patients in the present study. Roche Spa had no role in design and conduct of the study, collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data, nor preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Ethical Standards Statement

This work has been conducted according to Italian laws and adhered to the principles set forth in the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki. Patients’ treatments were approved by the Institutional Ethic Committee of Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome.