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ASCO conference: BerGenBio therapy reduces leukemia in certain patients

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ASCO conference: BerGenBio therapy reduces leukemia in certain patients

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

BerGenBio ASA said its treatment bemcentinib combined with chemotherapy helped control a type of blood cancer in certain patients in a small mid-stage trial.

The phase 2 trial was evaluating the bemcentinib-chemotherapy combination in patients with acute myeloid leukemia who were unable to tolerate intensive therapy due to advanced age or existing-co-morbidities.

Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, is diagnosed in more than 20,000 patients in the U.S. per year and is quickly lethal, Norway-based BerGenBio said in a release. Successful treatment of the disease requires intensive therapy or bone marrow transplantation, and there is an unmet need for less taxing treatments in patients who are ineligible.

Of 13 patients taking bemcentinib with low doses of the chemotherapy cytarabine in the phase 2 trial, six responded to the treatment — four of them entered complete remission, while two of them achieved partial remission.

Reduction of disease was seen in 46% of patients, and in patients over 70 years old, the treatment combination showed a 31% complete remission rate.

With another chemotherapy called decitabine, three patients responded, one of whom entered complete remission, and two saw partial remission.

The company announced the results at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"A majority of AML patients are unable to tolerate intensive chemotherapy and have limited treatment options, particularly if established first-line therapies fail," BerGenBio CEO Richard Godfrey said. "These combination trials of bemcentinib with low-dose cytarabine and decitabine show promising results that the addition of our selective AXL inhibitor will improve the outcome of treatment with these much-used agents."

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.