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Roche's Tecentriq combo helps lung cancer patients live longer in study

Roche Holding AG said its cancer drug Tecentriq, when taken with Avastin and chemotherapy, helped certain lung cancer patients live longer in a late-stage trial.

Under the ongoing trial, dubbed IMpower150, the Tecentriq and Avastin combo along with chemotherapy of carboplatin and Abraxane significantly improved the overall survival of patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, compared to those taking Avastin and chemotherapy alone — one of the study's two main goals.

Overall survival refers to the amount of time people diagnosed with the disease remain alive.

Previously reported results of the same study, which enrolled 1,202 patients, showed that the regimen cut the risk of the disease worsening or death by 38% compared to 18% for those taking Avastin and chemotherapy, another one of the study's main goals.

Roche plans to submit data from the study to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for regulatory approval.

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The company also reported recently that a combination of Tecentriq and chemotherapy reduced the risk of disease worsening or death for patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer that had spread to other places in the body.

Tecentriq is part of a class of immune system-boosting drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors. The inhibitor drugs target immune checkpoints such as PD-L1 and CTLA-4 to prevent cancer cells from downregulating and hiding from the body's immune system. The IMpower150 trial is one of eight studies for Tecentriq in lung cancer.

In treating NSCLC, Tecentriq faces a crowded market as it competes with other immunotherapies, including Merck & Co. Inc.'s Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Opdivo, AstraZeneca PLC's Imfinzi and Pfizer Inc. and Merck KGaA's Bavencio.

The drug is already approved in the U.S., Europe, and 50 other countries for treating previously treated NSCLC that has spread to other parts of the body and locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer. NSCLC accounts for 85% of all lung cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

Roche is also evaluating Tecentriq for colon and kidney cancers.