Abraxane outperforms Taxol in lung cancer study
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Abraxis Bioscience Inc said its cancer drug Abraxane outperformed the generic drug Taxol in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, without requiring patients to take steroids or antihistamines, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.
They said 33 percent of patients who got Abraxane in combination with the chemotherapy drug carboplatin responded to it, compared with 25 percent of patients who got chemotherapy combined with Taxol, a drug developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb that is available generically as paclitaxel.
The 31 percent improvement in response met the study's main goal, said Dr. Mark Socinski of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, who presented his findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.
A small group of patients with difficult-to-treat squamous cell carcinoma showed a 67 percent improvement on Abraxane compared with the Taxol combination.
Abraxane is a chemotherapy treatment that is already approved for use in metastatic breast cancer.
The drug is an enhanced version of paclitaxel that uses the human protein albumin to deliver the drug rather than chemical solvents, which can cause hypersensitivity reactions.
"Our understanding of the biology of tumors is that tumors appear to act like albumin sponges," Socinski said.
"We all would like chemotherapy to go exactly where you need it to go and not necessarily the rest of the body," Socinski said in a telephone interview.
"Obviously this does not concentrate all of the chemotherapy in the tumor, but it concentrates preferentially in the tumor."
Patients who got Abraxane were also less likely to develop sensory neuropathy -- a nerve condition that can cause a feeling of pins and needles in the fingers and toes.
Only 3 percent of patients treated with Abraxane got the side effect, compared with about 10 percent with Taxol.
"It can be function limiting -- you can have trouble buttoning your shirt or getting a dollar bill out of your wallet," Socinski said.
None of the patients who took Abraxane had any infusion reactions that can occur with Taxol, and they were able to take the drug without using antihistamines or high-dose steroids.
"I think one of the advantages with Abraxane is that you don't need to worry about the premedications," Socinski said.
Other measures of drug performance, such overall survival and a measurement known as progression-free survival -- how long patients go without their cancer getting worse -- are still being analyzed, Socinski said.
Analysts said ahead of the meeting the drug needs to prove a significant benefit in those measures to win widespread use.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer, which is the No. 1 cancer killer globally, claiming 1.2 million lives a year.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Richard Chang)
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