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Roche's blood cancer combo prolongs patients' lives in late-stage trial

Roche Holding AG said its drug Gazyva, in combination with chemotherapy, helped prolong the lives of patients with a certain type of blood cancer in a late-stage trial.

The phase 3 study, known as CLL11, was conducted in about 800 patients with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a form of blood cancer in which the bone marrow produces too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

The study compared the safety and effectiveness of Gazyva against MabThera, another blood cancer drug from Roche.

After about five years of treatment, 51% of the patients who received the Gazyva combination showed a 24% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death, with an average period of 28.9 months in which they survived without their cancer worsening, compared to 15.7 months for the MabThera combo.

Furthermore, 24% of the Gazyva combination-patient group had minimal residual disease negativity, or no cancer was detected in the blood or bone marrow during or after treatment, in contrast to 2% of those who were treated with MabThera-based therapy.

Gazyva is marketed as Gazyvaro in Europe and Switzerland, while MabThera is sold as Rituxan in U.S., Japan and Canada.