Genentech's Avastin Shows Promise in Ovarian Cancer Treatment

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Genentech, Inc has announced that a Phase III study of its cancer drug Avastin showed positive results in the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer. The data from the study will be submitted for presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting this June.

In the three-arm study, known as Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) 0218, women with newly diagnosed advanced ovarian cancer who already had surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible were randomized to receive one of the following:

-- Arm 1: Placebo in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy followed by placebo alone, for a total of up to 15 months of therapy

-- Arm 2: Avastin in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy followed by placebo alone, for a total of up to 15 months of therapy

-- Arm 3: Avastin in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy followed by the maintenance use of Avastin alone, for a total of up to 15 months of therapy.

The study showed that women who continued maintenance use of Avastin alone, after receiving Avastin in combination with chemotherapy (Arm 3), lived longer without the disease worsening compared to those who received chemotherapy alone.

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Women who received Avastin in combination with chemotherapy, but did not continue maintenance use of Avastin alone (Arm 2), did not live longer without the disease worsening compared to chemotherapy alone.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the eighth leading cause of cancer death among women world-wide. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women.

Worldwide, an estimated 230,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer world wide and around 140,000 die from the disease each year. In the U.S., an estimated 21,500 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and approximately 14,500 died from the disease in2009. The disease causes more deaths than any other gynecologic cancer, and the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 70 percent of women with advanced disease will die from it within five years.

Roche, which earlier this week registered a setback with Avastin in the treatment of stomach cancer, said a late stage trial found that the drug—in combination with chemotherapy plus maintenance use of Avastin—increases the time women live without the disease becoming worse.

"We are greatly encouraged by these results," said Pascal Soriot, Chief Operating Officer of Roche's pharma division. "Women with this disease still have a poor outlook and we are committed to working with the relevant health authorities to make Avastin available to these patients," he said.

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SOURCE: Genentech, Inc.

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