Combination of antitumor drugs improves survival in patients with an aggressive type of pediatric cancer

The BEACON clinical trial, in which Vall d'Hebron participates, has observed that adding Bevacizumab to treatment with different chemotherapy drugs reduces tumor size in a greater number of patients.


The BEACON clinical trial, in which Vall d'Hebron has participated, has shown that the combination of antitumor drugs in chemotherapy improves the response to treatment and survival in patients with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma, a very aggressive type of childhood cancer. The results of the study, led by the University of Birmingham, have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study, the largest clinical trial conducted so far in relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma, involved 160 patients between 1 and 21 years of age from 43 hospitals in 11 European countries. Half of them received conventional treatment with chemotherapy, while the second group was additionally administered Bevacizumab. This drug blocks the tumors from forming blood vessels and thus makes it more difficult for them to receive food and oxygen and helps the cancer cells to die.

The results show that, in the group receiving Bevacizumab together with conventional therapy, 26% of patients responded to treatment, i.e. they had a reduction in tumor size. In contrast, in the group receiving standard therapy alone, only 18% of patients responded to treatment. In addition, patients with Bevacizumab had better survival rates after one year, especially with the three-drug combination of Bevacizumab, irinotecan and temozolomide.

"BEACON has helped us to identify new treatment combinations for patients with relapsed neuroblastoma. The results offer new therapeutic options for patients with poor prognosis who until now did not respond to any established treatment", says Dr. Lucas Moreno, international coordinator of the clinical trial and head of the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Department at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and of the Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders group at Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR).

BEACON study to improve neuroblastoma treatment

BEACON is a Phase II clinical trial aimed at improving the treatment of children and adolescents with relapsed or non-responsive neuroblastoma. The study is the result of collaboration between 43 hospitals in Europe, with the participation of the expert groups SIOPEN (International Society of Paediatric Oncology European Neuroblastoma) and ITCC (Innovative therapies for children with cancer). In Spain, it has the participation of Vall d'Hebron, Hospital Infantil Universitario Niño Jesús, Hospital Universitario La Fe, Hospital de Cruces and Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío.

The BEACON2 study is currently underway, which will test new therapeutic combinations to improve the response to treatment and, therefore, the survival and quality of life of children affected by the disease and their families.

The data from the study offer new therapeutic options for children and adolescents with neuroblastoma.

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