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ASCO conference: AstraZeneca-Merck's Lynparza beats chemo in ovarian cancer

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The 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology takes place May 31-June 4.
Source: ASCO

AstraZeneca PLC and Merck & Co. Inc. said that almost three-quarters of ovarian cancer patients who took their oncology drug Lynparza responded to treatment compared to just over half of patients on chemotherapy.

The results showed that 72% of ovarian cancer patients with a specific mutation and a sensitivity to platinum-based treatments who had also undergone two rounds of chemotherapy saw their tumors shrink when taking Lynparza. Of those receiving only chemotherapy, just 51% of patients had smaller tumors after treatment.

In the phase 3 study dubbed SOLO3, the companies also examined the amount of time the patients lived without their disease getting worse. On Lynparza, they lived 4.2 months longer with no disease progression.

"This trial shows that Lynparza has the potential to provide a much-needed improvement and alternative over standard-of-care chemotherapy for certain patients with relapsed BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer," said José Baselga, AstraZeneca's executive vice president of oncology research and development, in a release. "This is the fourth positive phase 2 or phase 3 trial in advanced ovarian cancer for Lynparza across multiple lines of therapy."

Ovarian cancer kills more women globally than any other cancer and has a five-year survival rate of only 19%, Merck said in a release.

Lynparza inhibits an enzyme called PARP, which prevents cancer cells from dying. By inhibiting the enzyme, cancer cells can be killed more readily.

In the trial, several serious side effects presented, including anemia in more than 20% of patients. Less serious side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, were more common.

"Lynparza is the first and only PARP inhibitor to demonstrate efficacy versus chemotherapy in relapsed BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer following two or more prior lines of chemotherapy," said Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer of Merck Research Laboratories.

The 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting is expected to bring together more than 32,000 professionals from around the world, with more than 2,400 study abstracts to be presented on-site and an additional 3,200 abstracts to be published online.