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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Australian medical oncologists unveil cutting-edge therapeutic insights from BMS, Janssen, Pfizer and Roche

Health Industry Hub | October 25, 2023 |

Pharma News: The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress, held over the weekend, united clinicians and researchers to exchange ideas and foster collaborations in cancer research.

Professor Sherene Loi, medical oncologist in the Breast Service at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, took centre stage at the event’s late-breaking abstracts session. She unveiled the initial findings from a phase III clinical trial probing the merits of immunotherapy in early-stage oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive HER2-negative breast cancer.

Professor Loi disclosed, “Our trial called CheckMate-7FL showed that adding an immunotherapy treatment called Opdivo (nivolumab) [developed by Bristol Myers Squibb] to the treatment plan significantly increased the rate of pathological complete response and improved outcomes, especially in patients with breast cancers expressing high levels of immune cells called PD-L1.”

She emphasised, “This study demonstrates for the first time that immunotherapy can be used in patients with high-risk, aggressive, newly diagnosed ER-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, the most common breast cancer type and one that commonly occurs in younger women.”

Associate Professor Arun Azad, medical oncologist and translational researcher from Peter Mac, showcased the outcomes of three pivotal clinical trials in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Discussing the trials, Professor Azad remarked “The trials showed a significant benefit for combining Zytiga (abiraterone) [developed by Janssen] or Xtandi (enzalutamide) [developed by Pfizer/Astellas] with a PARP inhibitor in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients with mutations in DNA repair genes.”

Professor Linda Mileshkin, Director of Medical Oncology at Peter Mac, made her mark by presenting at a late-breaking abstract session and a satellite symposium. Her research endeavours centred on enhancing outcomes for individuals with cancer of an unknown primary (CUP).

Expressing her enthusiasm for the results from the CUPISCO trial, Professor Mileshkin stated “The clear benefit from molecularly-guided therapy in the investigational arm means that this should be a new standard of care for CUP patients. We need to find a way to make both the molecular testing as well as the relevant targeted therapies available for CUP patients to access.”

In the ESMO presidential symposium, Professor Ben Solomon, medical oncologist from Peter Mac, unveiled the findings of a global trial exploring the potential of a treatment called Alecensa (alectinib) [developed by Roche] in individuals with ALK-positive early-stage lung cancer.

Elaborating on the significance of the trial, Professor Solomon noted, “We have previously seen the benefits of targeted therapies in patients with advanced lung cancer. This trial is an international phase III study that looks to see if the use of targeted therapy with oral drugs can improve outcomes in patients with early-stage lung cancer.” The implications of this research hold the promise of advancing the treatment landscape for early-stage lung cancer patients.

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