Treatment with Avastin (bevacizumab) – a new cancer treatment from Swiss giant, Roche, and its biotechnology parter, Genentech – significantly survival in breast cancer, according to new data from the companies. This is the third indication in which Avastin has shown promise – it is already approved to treat colorectal cancer, and has been shown to extend survival in non-small cell lung cancer [[15/03/05a]].

This Phase III study included 722 women with previously untreated metastatic breast cancer who received Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Taxol (paclitaxel) either alone or in combination with Avastin. The companies say they were advised by the trial group conducting the study that an interim data analysis showed that it met its primary efficacy endpoint of improving progression-free survival, the length of time the cancer is stable, compared to chemotherapy alone.

William Burns, chief executive of Roche’s pharmaceutical division, said: “We plan to share these data with the regulatory authorities in order to explore with them how Avastin can be made available to patients with metastatic breast cancer.”

Around 9% of women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, making it one of the most common types of cancer in women. Each year more than one million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed worldwide, with a death rate of approximately 410,000 people per year.

- Meanwhile, Roche says it has launched a public clinical trial registry and results database, which can be viewed at www.roche-trials.com [[24/01/05a]]. The firm says that the site can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, with no password restrictions, and it is designed to give patients and healthcare providers ready access to information they need, in terms they can understand.