UPDATE: AstraZeneca reports positive test results for new cancer drugs

(Alliance News) - AstraZeneca PLC on Monday noted positive results for a prospective breast ...

Alliance News 20 September, 2021 | 10:22AM
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(Alliance News) - AstraZeneca PLC on Monday noted positive results for a prospective breast cancer treatment, following Friday's reports of improved lung cancer survival rates and reduced tumor expansion in recent trials.

Shares in AstraZeneca were trading up 2.3% at 8,251.00 pence each in London on Monday morning.

The FTSE 100-constituent said recent trials highlighted the effectiveness of its Enhertu antibody drug conjugate in HER2-positive lung and breast cancers.

In 2019, AstraZeneca entered a global collaboration with Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd to jointly develop and commercialise the HER2-directed therapy, Enhertu.

The company noted a 72% reduction in the risk of disease progression and death when comparing new breast cancer treatment Enhertu with a currently approved treatment, trastuzumab emtansine.

Noting "detailed positive results" from its Destiny-Breast03 Phase 3 trial, the company said new tests affirmed the safety and effectiveness of Enhertu.

Patients treated with the new drug showed a "strong trend towards improved overall survival", AstraZeneca added.

Around one in five cases of breast cancer are HER2-positive, meaning that they show higher than usual levels of the HER2 growth-promoting protein.

According to the American Cancer Society, HER2 positive cancers spread faster but are also more likely to respond to treatment that targets the overactive protein.

"Despite initial treatment with trastuzumab and a taxane, people with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer will often experience disease progression. More effective options are needed to further delay progression and extend survival," AstraZeneca said.

"The early survival data, which evaluated Enhertu against another HER2-directed [antibody drug conjugate], showed that nearly all patients treated with Enhertu were alive after a year and is a positive indication of the potential of this medicine to transform the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer," said Daiichi Sankyo's global head of research and development, Ken Takeshita.

Trials of Enhertu for lung cancer patients have also generated positive results.

On Friday, AstraZeneca said the Phase 2 Destiny-Lung01 trial of Enhertu showed a "robust and durable tumour response" of 55% in patients with HER2-mutant metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, known as NSCLC.

Globally, lung cancer accounts for one fifth of cancer deaths, the company said, with NSCLC patients making up between 80% and 85% of those fatalities.

The drug trial responds to the current absence of medicines for HER2-positive NSCLC, which affects between 2% and 4% of patients with NSCLC, the company noted.

Also on Friday, AstraZeneca reported further positive results for its Imfinzi cancer treatment.

The company said its Caspian Phase 3 trial showed that survival rates tripled after three years for extensive-stage small cell lung cancer patients who were treated with a combination of immunotherapy cancer drug Imfinzi and chemotherapy.

The company said the trial "demonstrated a sustained, clinically meaningful overall survival benefit at three years for adults with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer treated in the first-line setting."

The trial was the longest survival follow-up reported for an immunotherapy treatment in this setting, the company added.

As reported on Friday, the company's Coast Phase 2 trial showed improved response rates in lung cancer patients when treated with a combination of Imfinzi and two other monoclonal antibodies, oleclumab or monalizumab.

When following up on patients after almost 12 months, the trial shows that the combination reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 56% compared to the use of Imfinzi alone.

By Scarlett Butler; scarlettbutler@alliancenews.com

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Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
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AstraZeneca PLC 9,003.00 GBX 0.68

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