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ASCO: AZ’s ovarian cancer combination aces trial

Olaparib/cediranib combo demonstrates progression-free survival of 17.7 months
AstraZeneca AZ headquarters London UK

A combination therapy based on two AstraZeneca (AZ) compounds - olaparib and cediranib - has nearly doubled progression-free survival (PFS) compared to olaparib alone in a phase II trial in ovarian cancer.

Moreover, the combination of the two orally-administered drugs could be an alternative to platinum-based chemotherapy if its initial promise is backed up in further trials, according to the study investigators.

The trial was carried out by researchers at the National Cancer Institute and included 90 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer that had either initially responded to platinum-based therapy or whose tumours expressed the BRCA gene mutation. Results were presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago over the weekend.

Patients treated with olaparib alone had an average PFS of around 9 months, but this increased to 17.7 months with the combination. Meanwhile, the objective response rate was 80 per cent for patients on the combination arm compared with 48 per cent for patients on olaparib alone.

Typically, the response to another round of chemotherapy in this population would be a PFS of between 8 and 13 months, according to Joyce Liu, the study's lead author and an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

"Combining olaparib and cediranib may herald the beginning of treatments that avoid chemotherapy in some patients with recurrent ovarian cancer," commented Jonathan Ledermann of University College London Cancer Institute.

The NCI is currently planning to conduct two phase III trials to further investigate the combination of olaparib and cediranib in ovarian cancer, and AZ said it would take the data into account as it considers its own clinical development plans for the drugs.

PARP inhibitor olaparib has already shown promise as an ovarian cancer therapy and is currently under regulatory review in the US and Europe as a maintenance therapy for BRCA-positive patients stabilised with chemotherapy. 

Meanwhile, VEGF inhibitor cediranib - which has been given the proposed trade name of Recentin - has previously disappointed in colorectal cancer but demonstrated significant improvements in PFS and overall survival in ovarian cancer and is scheduled for regulatory filings later this year.

AZ is banking on its pipeline to deliver the goods and justify its decision to resist the recent takeover, and in documents advising shareholders of the potential of its pipeline indicated that olaparib is expected to become a $2bn-a-year product at peak. Sales forecasts for cediranib were not included in that update.

Learn more about AZ's cancer prospects in PMLiVE's interview with Susan Galbraith, VP of oncology at AZ

Article by
Phil Taylor

2nd June 2014

From: Research

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