Roche gets oncology boost with cancer vaccine

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Roche’s most advanced experimental cancer immunotherapy has had impressive results in a small Phase I trial, reducing tumour size in half of the patients.

In data to be fully revealed at the ASCO meeting later this month – where cancer immunotherapies will be well-represented – MPDL3280A will be shown to have shrunk the tumours of ten out of 20 advanced bladder cancer patients with PD-L1 positive tumours by at least 30 per cent.

Sandra Horning, Roche’s chief medical officer, tells Reuters: “A 50% response rate is quite remarkable and it certainly compares favourably with what we and others have seen with immunotherapy for other tumour types.”

With specific advances in bladder cancer few and far between in recent years, Roche’s head of global medical affairs oncology, Niko Andre, says he is particularly excited about the new data on MPDL3280A.

The median time to response in this Phase I trial was 43 days, and Horning says: “To see an early response with immunotherapy is a very notable finding.”

Anti-PDL1 therapies block signals from the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) – signals which help tumours avoid detection by the body’s immune system.

This should in turn boost the chances of patients’ immune systems combating cancer, and this mechanism means successful cancer immunotherapy candidates are likely to be big sellers.

ASCO 2014


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