ESMO congress wrap-up

Health Industry Hub | October 9, 2019 |
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The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) strives to be ‘the’ appointment for clinicians, researchers, patient advocates, journalists and the pharmaceutical industry from all over the world to share and learn about the latest advances in cancer and translate the science into better patient care.

The congress refined the optimal use of PARP inhibitors in patients with ovarian cancer, expanding the population that will benefit from these agents, both by moving them earlier in the sequence of therapy, and by disposing of unsatisfactory biomarker preselection. Their favourable combinatorial profile will open new opportunities, including interesting synergies with immuno-oncological agents.

Promising results point towards a shift in neoadjuvant therapy for triple-negative breast cancer in the near future, with the inclusion of PD-1 checkpoint blockade in the treatment regimen leading to higher complete response rates. For hormone receptor-positive breast cancer patients, robust evidence now supports the addition of CDK 4/6 inhibitors to endocrine therapy, resulting in longer survival.

Further evidence for first-line combination immunotherapy in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer patients hints at an additional chemotherapy-free treatment option in this setting.

Promising outcomes

AZ and Merck win with Lynparza

AstraZeneca and Merck produced data tosupport a third indication in second line prostate cancer for Lynparza (olaparib), the first PARP (poly (ADP ribose) polymerase) class drug to gain approval five years ago.

AZ and Merck’s results from the PROFOUND trial showed their PARP inhibitor significantly extended progression-free survival in prostate cancer patients with certain gene mutations. PROFOUND focused on patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, who had relapsed after treatment with established first line therapies, Pfizer’s Xtandi and Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga.

GSK on target with Zejula

GlaxoSmithKline showed promising patient outcomes with its PARP inhibitor Zejula (niraparib), sharing data that secures its use in a wider group of ovarian cancer patients in the PRIMA study. The study included patients who responded to front-line platinum chemotherapy, aiming to compete with Lynparza, which has been approved in this indication on the basis of the SOLO-1 clinical trial results. Zejula reduced risk of disease progression with the biggest impact seen in patients with BRCA1/2 mutations.

AbbVie’s success with Veliparib

AbbVie’s data from the VELIA clinical trial shows the drug improved survival in patients with newly-diagnosed late-stage ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancers.

This was followed by data from the BROCADE3 phase 3 trial where veliparib improved PFS (progression free survival) by two months compared with placebo in BRCA mutated, triple negative or hormone receptor-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Keytruda in TNBC

While Roche’s checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy Tecentriq (atezolizumab) is already approved in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), Merck is looking to advance with Keytruda (pembrolizunmab).

Data published suggests that Merck’s therapy may become standard of care in early TNBC before or immediately after surgery, potentially taking marketshare from Tecentriq as it would be used earlier in the patient journey.

Adapted from :,

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