New immunotherapy shows positive results in bladder and lung cancer

New immunotherapy shows positive results in bladder and lung cancer

27 Sep 2015

Roche’s new immune-system boosting cancer drug, atezolizumab, has given positive results in tests on patients suffering from some lung and bladder cancers, according to a new study. The company hopes that these positive data will help it win quick regulatory approval.

Atezolizumab, the monoclonal antibody is designed to interfere with the protein called programmed death-ligand 1, or PD-L1, that normally plays a role in preventing autoimmunity but can be produced by some tumors, enabling them to evade the immune system.

Roche aims to get atezolizumab to prevent PD-L1 from binding to receptors on the surface of cancer-fighting T cells, helping activate them to fight the tumor. It hopes the drug will be on the market by late-2016

Atezolizumab’s outstanding results

In its Phase 2 trial targeting advanced or metastatic bladder cancer, Roche said its atezolizumab immunotherapy drug shrank tumors in 27% people who expressed medium and high levels of PD-L1, a protein that appears to help cancers evade the immune system.

In two separate Phase 2 trials targeting advanced non-small cell lung cancer, Roche reported that patients getting atezolizumab lived 7.7 months longer than those who got chemotherapy. The drug also shrank tumors in up to 27% lung cancer sufferers whose disease had progressed with other treatments and who expressed the highest PD-L1 levels.


Roche won 'breakthrough therapy status' for atezolizumab in February from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is now calling it the "first new therapy for bladder cancer in 30 years."

“The drug will possibly change treatment strategies”

Adverse events associated with atezolizumab, including fatigue, itching, rash and joint pain, were consistent with previous studies, Roche said of its trials.

"Durable responses are not something you currently see in bladder cancer with chemotherapy," said Thomas Buechele, Roche's head of global medical affairs in hematology and oncology. "When we inhibit PD-L1 the immune response goes up," Daniel Chen, Roche's cancer immunotherapy franchise head reported. "It is to be expected that atezolizumab, like other PD-1 and PD-L1 antibodies, will substantially change treatment strategies of patients," commented Dr. Martin Reck, chief oncology physician at Germany's Grosshansdorf Hospital.

Source: Reuters

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