ORLANDO, Fla. --

Genentech's

(DNA)

Avastin improved lung cancer survival when added to standard combination chemotherapy, according to research presented at this year's meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Avastin delayed disease progression and allowed for longer survival of non-small cell lung cancer patients, according to the research.

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In a phase III trial comparing the use of paclitaxel and carboplatin, with and without Avastin, patients who received Avastin experienced cancer progression two months later and lived more than two months longer than patients who did not.

The most common side effects seen in the trial were low infection-fighting white blood cell count, blood clots and bleeding. The most significant side effect, was life threatening and even fatal bleeding from the lungs, researchers reported. This side effect occurred in 1.2% of those on Avastin, compared with none on standard chemotherapy alone. The condition was observed in 9% of patients in a previous trial.

Avastin is currently approved for colon cancer, but it's being studied as a potential treatment for other types of cancers. Avastin is a part of a class of cancer drugs that stop vascular endothelial growth factor (or VEGF), a cellular substance that stimulates new blood vessel formation.

Based on solid efficacy data and low occurrence of severe side effects, "Avastin will likely gain adoption in a significant proportion of front-line patients," S.G. Cowen's health care research group wrote in a research note.

Also, according to doctors surveyed by Cowen, a safety profile that included incidence of hemoptysis, or bleeding from the lungs, of lower than 5% constitutes an acceptable safety profile.

"Although there appears to be no consensus on whether Avastin can or should be used with other first-line chemo regimens, used in second-line Avastin-naive patients, or used to treat non-centrally located squamous cell histologies, physicians expect adoption to be relatively broad with Avastin's high cost being of only minor consequence," Cowen's health care team wrote.