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ZURICH, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Novartis AG's NOVN.VX cancer drug Glivec had the potential to treat a rare heart and lung condition in a mid-stage trial, but did not reach its main target in the study.
Preliminary findings from the 59-patient study suggested Glivec, known also by its generic name imatinib, provided a treatment benefit in key measures used to monitor the progression of the disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), Novartis said on Wednesday.
But Glivec did not reach statistical significance in its main target in the study, which was improvement in the six-minute walk test -- in which the patient tries to walk as far as possible in six minutes -- Novartis said.
Swiss biotech Actelion ATLN.VX currently has the leading drug for PAH, Tracleer, which rakes in more than $1 billion a year but faces growing competition from drugs such as Gilead Sciences Inc's (GILD.O) Letaris and Thelin from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N).
Plans for further research into the potential of Glivec in PAH will be announced at a later date, Novartis said. (Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Hans Peters)