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Roche's Tecentriq cuts disease symptoms in bladder cancer patients

Roche Holding AG said its immunotherapy Tecentriq helped certain bladder cancer patients live longer without their disease worsening, according to a late-stage study.

Results from the phase 3 study, dubbed IMvigor130, showed Tecentriq in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy significantly reduced the risk of disease worsening or death — a metric known as progression-free survival — in patients with previously untreated urothelial carcinoma that has either grown outside the organ or has already spread to other parts of the body.

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The safety profile of Tecentriq plus chemotherapy is consistent with that of the individual medicines and there was no new information on any adverse event caused by the combination.

Tecentriq, or atezolizumab, is the first immunotherapy approved for bladder cancer. The drug works by blocking the actions of a protein called programmed death-ligand 1, or PD-L1, that is responsible for tumor growth. Tecentriq remains one of Roche's top-selling products.

There are four ongoing late-stage studies evaluating Tecentriq alone and in combination with other medicines in early and advanced bladder cancer. The drug is also being developed for various types of cancer, including lung, breast, skin and gastrointestinal.

Basel, Switzerland-based Roche will present IMvigor130's results at an upcoming medical meeting. The data will also be shared with health authorities worldwide, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency.

Bladder cancer was the cause of about 200,000 deaths in 2018, with more than half a million new cases recorded that year. Urothelial carcinoma, which develops in the cells of the bladder lining, is the most common type of bladder cancer, accounting for about 90% of all cases.