Roche and Genentech have reported data from an interim analysis of a Phase III study of Avastin which show that the drug benefits patients suffering from kidney cancer.

As part of the double-blind Phase III AVOREN trial, 649 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma were randomised to receive standard therapy consisting of interferon alfa-2a plus either placebo or Avastin (bevacizumab), and the companies noted that the drug significantly improved progression-free survival compared to interferon alfa-2a therapy alone. In addition, the early analysis indicates "a trend toward improvement" in overall survival in the Avastin plus interferon arm.

Based on the findings, an independent data safety monitoring board has

recommended that patients in the study be made aware of the results and

offered treatment with Avastin, which is currently approved to treat

colorectal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

Another study of interferon plus or minus Avastin in first-line mRCC with

a primary endpoint of overall survival is currently being conducted and

Roche and Genentech are planning a randomised study of Avastin in

combination with another targeted agent in RCC.

This latest data provides a boost to the firms which are investigating the

drug in 130 clinical trials for 25 different cancer types. However Avastin

has suffered a few setbacks in the lab of late. In September, the US Food

and Drug Administration has asked for more information before considering

approval for the additional indication of breast cancer and before that

Genentech halted a trial of the drug in pancreatic cancer after it failed

to boost overall survival over standard therapy.