AstraZeneca and Merck report progress in early-stage breast cancer

AstraZeneca and Merck’s Lynparza could prove to be an important new tool in the battle to treat early-stage breast cancer, after data published before this year’s largest oncology conference showed it significantly reduces recurrence rates for patients with the BRCA gene mutation.

David Fredrikson, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president of oncology, said the company’s focus on “earlier, smarter interventions” was helping to drive a treatment for many types of cancer. Pharmaceutical companies are expected to submit trial data to regulators for approval of this requirement.

The OlympiA study found that taking Lynparza in addition to physical therapy — chemotherapy, surgery, and sometimes radiotherapy — was estimated to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening recurrence within three years by 42 percent. The study will be published in New England Journal of Medicine It was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) this weekend.

“Overnight, these women’s diagnosis shifts from not having any treatments that specifically target the type of cancer you have, to treatment,” Fredrickson said.

AstraZeneca Innovation in Oncology He helped transform the performance at the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company in recent years. In the first quarter, oncology sales of drugs including Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi Increased by 20 percent on an annual basis. Merck, the US drugmaker, pioneered immunotherapy — using the immune system to target tumors — with its blockbuster drug Keytruda.

Fredrickson cautioned that better screening is needed, especially as cancer diagnoses decline during the pandemic, to make the most of treatments that work best when given early. In the UK, official figures show that stage 1 cancer diagnoses fell by about a third in the early months of the epidemic, compared to the same period the previous year.

“We have been very concerned about the collateral damage that the pandemic is causing to new cancer diagnosis and testing rates,” he said.

Launched in 2014, Lynparza has already shown success in treating later-stage breast cancer, which has metastasized and cannot be cured, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Known as a parp inhibitor, it targets impairments in the DNA repair system of cancer.

About 15 percent of people with breast cancer are called triple negative, with cancers that don’t respond to other targeted therapies, and many of these have any of the BRCA breast cancer mutations, which affect the body’s ability to suppress tumors.

Tests for BRCA mutations are typically used to determine cancer risks, said Andrew Tott, a professor at the Institute of Cancer Research, who led the steering committee overseeing the trial. But if the drug is approved for the condition, he said oncologists should use the diagnosis to select the right patients for the drug.

“This is a completely new way to use cancer genetics in the therapeutic setting,” he said.

Laurie J. Pearce, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said the findings could have an “important impact” on treatment decisions for this subgroup of patients.

“Olympia’s findings highlight the need for genetic testing for BRCA mutations in patients diagnosed with high-risk early-stage breast cancer,” she said.

Also at the ASCO conference, Novartis will share results of a trial using a new, targeted type of radiotherapy, known as radioligand, in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, which significantly improved survival rates when combined with physical therapy.

Amgen will share survival data from the cancer drug Lumakras targeting KRAS – formerly known as ‘Irreversible goal’ A master switch for oncogenes makes cells cancerous. Recently, the drug gained Food and Drug Administration approval for patients with non-small cell lung cancer with a specific genetic mutation.

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