Various conventional chemotherapeutic drugs can block angiogenesis or even kill activated, dividing endothelial cells. Such effects may contribute to the antitumor efficacy of chemotherapy in vivo and may delay or prevent the acquisition of drug-resistance by cancer cells. We have implemented a treatment regimen that augments the potential antivascular effects of chemotherapy, that is devoid of obvious toxic side effects, and that obstructs the development of drug resistance by tumor cells. Xenografts of 2 independent neuroblastoma cell lines were subjected to either continuous treatment with low doses of vinblastine, a monoclonal neutralizing antibody (DC101) targeting the flk-1/KDR (type 2) receptor for VEGF, or both agents together. The rationale for this combination was that any antivascular effects of the low-dose chemotherapy would be selectively enhanced in cells of newly formed vessels when survival signals mediated by VEGF are blocked. Both DC101 and low-dose vinblastine treatment individually resulted in significant but transient xenograft regression, diminished tumor vascularity, and direct inhibition of angiogenesis. Remarkably, the combination therapy resulted in full and sustained regressions of large established tumors, without an ensuing increase in host toxicity or any signs of acquired drug resistance during the course of treatment, which lasted for >6 months.
Giannoula Klement, Sylvain Baruchel, Janusz Rak, Shan Man, Katherine Clark, Daniel J. Hicklin, Peter Bohlen, Robert S. Kerbel