Genentech and Roche’s new cancer drug, Avastin (bevacizumab), doubles the time to disease progression when used in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Taxol (paclitaxel) in the first line treatment of women with advanced breast cancer – according to new data presented this weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

Median progression-free survival was 11 months for patients treated with Avastin plus chemotherapy, compared to six months for patients treated with chemotherapy alone. At this interim analysis, a 49% improvement in the secondary endpoint of overall survival was also observed, while the overall response rate was 28% in the Avastin plus chemotherapy arm, a 100% increase over the 14% observed in the chemotherapy alone arm.

“This is the first successful study to show that the scientific approach of attacking a tumor’s blood supply by inhibiting angiogenesis can result in improved outcomes for women with first-line metastatic breast cancer, and the study is particularly important given the magnitude of the improvement seen in progression-free survival, the study’s primary endpoint,” said Kathy Miller, principal investigator for the study.

Genentech is currently in the process of discussing plans for a regulatory filing of Avastin plus chemotherapy in first-line metastatic breast cancer with the US Food and Drug Administration. The agency gave its first nod of approval for Avastin in February last year to treat advanced colorectal cancer [[27/02/04a]].