[June 04, 2014]CHICAGO (Reuters) -
Britain's AstraZeneca Plc on Tuesday said data from
early-stage trials of its experimental cancer drug,
MEDI4736, are encouraging and support moving the
immunotherapy into pivotal-stage testing.
The findings were part of a series of presentations by AstraZeneca
at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting
in Chicago. AstraZeneca had leaned on the promise of its cancer drug
pipeline to fend off a $118 billion takeover bid by U.S. rival
MEDI4736 is part of a closely watched class of drugs known as
anti-PDL1 therapies, which work by blocking a tumor's ability to
evade the immune system's defenses. AstraZeneca acquired the drug in
its 2007 takeover of U.S.-based MedImmune [MEDI.UL].
AstraZeneca said data from the expanded enrollment phase of the
trial show early evidence of patient response in multiple tumor
types, including non-small lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma of
the head and neck, pancreatic cancer, gastroesophageal cancer, and
Phase I results for MEDI4736 in 27 patients with advanced solid
tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma and
colorectal cancer, showed 19 percent experienced tumor shrinkage and
39 percent saw their cancer stabilize after at least a year of
treatment, the company said.
"The data presented at ASCO reinforce the importance MEDI4736 plays
in our immuno-oncology portfolio and, more broadly, the potential
role it has to help in transforming cancer therapy, alone and in
combination with other treatments,” Dr. Edward Bradley, MedImmune
senior vice president, research and development and oncology said in
AstraZeneca has two ongoing studies exploring different doses and
treatment schedules for combinations of MEDI4736 and tremelimumab,
an experimental drug that works by unlocking a different brake on
the immune system.
The company said the lung cancer trial involving both drugs is
continuing, with no maximum tolerated dose yet defined.
"Early, preliminary clinical activity has been observed with this
combination in patients with advanced NSCLC (non-small cell lung
cancer)," AstraZeneca said in a statement.
(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)