Roche drug helps neurocognition in brain cancer

* Avastin improves patients daily lives, study finds

* Patients may have better memory, less need for steroids

BERLIN, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Roche's ROG.VX Avastin, which has already been shown to help patients with brain cancer stay alive longer without their condition worsening, may also improve their daily lives, new Phase II data reported on Tuesday showed.

An analysis presented at the ECCO-ESMO European cancer congress in Berlin found those patients who responded to Avastin may also have a stabilisation or improvement in neurocognitive function and a reduction in their need for steroids.

“Stabilising neurocognitive function and reducing reliance on steroids can improve day to day life for patients with recurrent GBM (glioblastoma) which, given the poor prognosis, is a key aim of treatment,” said James Vredenburgh of Duke University Medical Center in the United States.

Loss of neurocognitive function affects the ability to think and reason, to make judgments and remember things, while steroid use can lead to weight gain, insomnia and behavioural changes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Avastin in May for treating glioblastoma, the most common and the most aggressive type of primary malignant brain tumour. It is currently being assessed by regulators for the same use in Europe. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Hans Peters)