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Afinitor extends pancreatic cancer survival

Results of a phase III trial show Novartis' Afinitor more than doubled progression-free survival in patients with advanced pancreatic tumours

Novartis has announced results of a phase III trial showing Afinitor (everolimus), in conjunction with best supportive care (BSC), more than doubled progression-free survival, from 4.6 to 11.0 months, in patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NET), when compared to placebo plus BSC.

The results of the phase III trial, known as RADIANT-3, were presented at the 12th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer. RADIANT-3 is part of the largest clinical trial programme in patients with advanced NET. Advanced pancreatic NET are also known as islet cell tumours. 

In addition to extending the median time without tumour growth from 4.6 to 11.0 months, findings from the trial found that Afinitor reduced the risk of cancer progression by 65 per cent. 

Surgery and chemotherapy are currently the only treatment options for patients with advanced pancreatic NET. Due to the aggressive nature of pancreatic NETs, almost 60 per cent of patients will have reached the advanced stage of their disease, with the cancer spreading to other parts of the body, by the time they are diagnosed. 

Afinitor works by targeting a protein that acts as a central regulator of tumour cell division, blood vessel growth and cell metabolism known as mTOR, in cancer cells.

In Europe, Afinitor is approved for the treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) whose disease has progressed on or after treatment with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapy. 

In the US, Afinitor is approved for the treatment of patients with advanced RCC after failure of treatment with sunitinib (marketed as Sutent by Pfizer) or sorafenib (marketed as Nexavar by Bayer). 

The same drug (everolimus) is used in different strengths to prevent organ rejection in transplant recipients. For this indicated everolimus is marketed as Certican in Europe and as Zortress in the US.

1st July 2010

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