ZURICH, June 2 An experimental drug from
Novartis significantly improved the length of time
that patients lived with a type of bone marrow cancer without
the disease worsening, according to a late-stage study presented
The Phase III trial in patients with relapsed or relapsed
and refractory multiple myeloma was presented at the American
Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago.
Results of the study involving 768 patients found those
taking the Novartis drug LBH589 in combination with bortezomib
and dexamethasone went for an extra four months on average
without a worsening of the disease, compared with those taking
bortezomib and dexamethasone alone.
Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that starts in plasma
cells in bone marrow and disrupts the production of normal blood
cells. It affects approximately one to five people in every
100,000 worldwide each year and typically occurs in those aged
"Almost all patients with multiple myeloma ultimately
relapse and become resistant to treatment, so new therapies are
critical for continuing to manage the disease and improve
outcomes," said study investigator Paul Richardson of the Jerome
Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
LBH589 in May was granted priority review status by U.S.
health regulators - a designation that aims to fast-track the
development and review times of drugs for serious or
Novartis believes the drug has the potential to become one
of the first in a new class of treatments for the incurable
disease and said global regulatory filings were underway.
"We see this data as quite competitive, because this is the
first prospective study run in this special population," said
Alessandro Riva, global head of Novartis oncology development
and medical affairs.
"This regime will be the first regime available to patients
after the failure of first-in-line therapy."
The drug works by blocking a key cancer cell enzyme, which
causes cell stress and leads to death of these cells.
German Biotech company MorphoSys and Celgene
are also working on treatments for multiple myeloma.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Jane Baird)