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A Tale Of Two Innovative Experimental Cancer Drugs

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The race to find new cancer drugs continues as companies worldwide conduct experimental trials in the hopes of coming up with a viable solution to one of the human race’s greatest killers.

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche announced that its trials on a new drug for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, called Gazyva, has failed to provide any substantial improvements over other medicines in treating the aggressive form of blood cancer. This is a major setback for the company’s struggle to get ahead of its competitors, Reuters reports.

As it turns out, Gazyva did not significantly decrease the risk of the cancer worsening or lessen mortality risks for people with a previously untreated version of this cancer over the current drug Rituxan in a Phase III GOYA study, Roche said.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the USA, there are around 25,000 new cases and 10,000 deaths from this cancer per year.

Roche’s study, which involved 1,218 previously untreated patients, proved that Gazyva did not help much in this particular blood cancer, but Chief Medical Officer Sandra Horning said,

Two previous studies showed Gazyva/Gazyvaro helped people with previously untreated follicular lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia live longer without their disease worsening compared to MabThera/Rituxan, when each was combined with chemotherapy.

The progress that Gazyva had made with previously untreated follicular lymphoma over Rituxan boosted Roche’s shares in May. The Swiss company is working to fend off cheaper so-called biosimilar copies of Rituxan, which will possibly be readily available in the next few years.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca Plc has announced that its experimental drug for lung cancer, Tagrisso, has achieved its main goal in a late-stage study as it showed much better progression-free survival compared to traditional platinum-based chemotherapy.

Tagrisso, which got early approval from both US and European drug regulators, is just one of several cancer medicines AstraZeneca is working on to recoup its previous losses on older drugs, Reuters says.

The clinical trial evaluated Tagrisso’s safety and efficiency as a secondary treatment for specific lung cancer forms, AstraZeneca said. Second-line treatments kick in when initial treatments don’t produce sufficient results.

The drug company is now conducting a full assessment of the Tagrisso data.


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