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Anti-angiogenesis treatment improves hearing in some NF2 patients
Date:7/8/2009

Treatment with the angiogenesis inhibitor bevacizumab improved hearing and alleviated other symptoms in patients with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). In a paper to appear in the July 23 New England Journal of Medicine, which is receiving early online release, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that bevacizumab treatment successfully shrank characteristic tumors in a small group of NF2 patients, the first reported successful NF2 treatment not involving surgery or radiation.

"This kind of treatment response is unprecedented," says Scott Plotkin, MD, PhD, of the Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology in the MGH Cancer Center, lead author of the NEJM paper. "Our study is the first to provide evidence that a drug can shrink vestibular schwannomas benign tumors on the balance and hearing nerves and the first to show that patients' hearing can be improved."

NF2 is an inherited genetic disorder in which benign tumors develop throughout the nervous system. Vestibular schwannomas are the most common NF2-associated tumors, and although they grow slowly, they usually cause patients to lose all or most of their hearing by young adulthood or middle age. The tumors can be removed surgically or treated with radiation, but in patients with vestibular schwannomas on both sides, which is typical in NF2, such treatment usually leads to complete hearing loss. Growing vestibular schwannomas can also press on the brainstem, leading to headaches, difficulty swallowing and other serious neurologic symptoms.

Since vestibular schwannomas are benign tumors, it was believed that they did not stimulate formation of new blood vessels as malignant tumors do. However, when the researchers studied tissue samples from NF2-related schwannomas, sporadic tumors not caused by NF2 and normal spinal nerves, they found evidence of excess blood vessel development and increased expression of angiogenesis-related molecules in both NF2-associa
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Contact: Katie Marquedant
kmarquedant@partners.org
617-726-0337
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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