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AstraZeneca reveals trial results for breast cancer, lung cancer and leukaemia drugs and appoints CFO





AstraZeneca has announced a raft of encouraging trial results, a new drug approval and a new key appointment.

A phase III trial has shown AstraZeneca and MSD’s Lynparza (olaparib) reduced the risk of cancer recurrence by 42 per cent in the adjuvant treatment of patients with germline BRCA-mutated high-risk early breast cancer.

Dave Fredrickson, executive vice-president, oncology business unit, AstraZeneca (25544507)
Dave Fredrickson, executive vice-president, oncology business unit, AstraZeneca (25544507)

Dave Fredrickson, executive vice president, oncology business unit, said: “This is the first time that any medicine targeting a BRCA mutation has demonstrated the potential to change the course of early-stage breast cancer and offer hope for a cure.

“By providing a treatment which significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer returning in these high-risk patients, we hope Lynparza will set a new benchmark demonstrating sustained clinical benefit. We are working with regulatory authorities to bring Lynparza to these patients as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, another phase III trial showed AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi (durvalumab) encouraging results for patients with unresectable, stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had not progressed following concurrent chemoradiation therapy (CRT). A third of patients were progression-free at five years - the longest-ever survival reported in a phase III immunotherapy trial in this setting.

An aerial view of AstraZeneca's global R&D Centre, being completed on Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Picture: AstraZeneca
An aerial view of AstraZeneca's global R&D Centre, being completed on Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Picture: AstraZeneca

David Spigel, chief scientific officer at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, and investigator in the PACIFIC trial, said: “Historically, only 15-30 per cent of these patients survived five years but these results show that with up to one year of treatment with Imfinzi, an estimated 43 per cent of patients are still alive at five years. Moreover, three quarters of these patients had also not progressed in that time. This is a momentous achievement at the five-year landmark in this curative-intent setting.”

And final results from the head-to-head ELEVATE-RR phase III trial of AstraZeneca’s Calquence (acalabrutinib) demonstrated fewer events of atrial fibrillation when compared to ibrutinib in adults with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common type of leukaemia in adults.

A four-year follow-up from the ELEVATE-TN phase III trial also showed strong benefits in terms of progression-free survival for Calquence as combination therapy or as monotherapy in previously untreated patients with CLL.

An aerial view of how AstraZeneca's South Plot building will look on Cambridge Biomedical Campus, near to its global R&D Centre. Picture: AstraZeneca
An aerial view of how AstraZeneca's South Plot building will look on Cambridge Biomedical Campus, near to its global R&D Centre. Picture: AstraZeneca

And analysis of phase III trial data has showed anifrolumab was consistently associated with improvements in both skin rash and arthritis across three different disease measures each, compared to placebo, in patients with moderate to severe systemic lupus erythematosus.

Meanwhile, Tagrisso (osimertinib) has been approved in the EU for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with early-stage EGFRm non-small cell lung cancer after complete tumour resection with curative intent. It follows positive results from a phase III trial in which it was shown to improve the disease-free survival in patients.

AstraZeneca has also announced the appointment of Aradhana Sarin as an executive director and chief financial officer, on the condition that the company’s $39bn acquisition of Boston-based rare disease specialist Alexion Pharmaceuticals - expected in the third quarter - is completed.

Dr Sarin is currently executive vice-president, chief financial officer of Alexion, and will relocate from the US to the UK, where she will report to AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot.

Marc Dunoyer, CFO of AstraZeneca, who is due to become CEO of Alexio if its acquisition by AstraZeneca is completed. Picture: AstraZeneca (47964557)
Marc Dunoyer, CFO of AstraZeneca, who is due to become CEO of Alexio if its acquisition by AstraZeneca is completed. Picture: AstraZeneca (47964557)

Dr Sarin will replace Marc Dunoyer, who will step down as CFO after more than seven years and retire from AstraZeneca’s board to become CEO of Alexion and chief strategy officer at AstraZeneca, remaining part of its senior executive team

Read more

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