Roche's Tecentriq (atezolizumab) in combination with chemotherapy has improved treatment response in people with early triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), raising hopes for a new therapeutic option for the condition.

The Phase III IMpassion031 study, which evaluated Tecentriq/chemotherapy in comparison to placebo plus chemotherapy, met its primary endpoint by demonstrating a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in pathological complete response (pCR), regardless of PD-L1 expression.

“Triple-negative breast cancer remains an aggressive disease with high rates of recurrence,” said Levi Garraway, Roche’s chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “Our goal in treating TNBC at its earliest stages is to provide people with the best chance for a future cure. Adding Tecentriq to chemotherapy now has the potential to help women with TNBC at multiple different stages of the disease.”

In the study, fewer patients who received the Tecentriq combination as a neoadjuvant (before surgery) treatment had evidence of tumour tissue detectable at the time of surgery (known as pCR, a common measure of treatment effect), regardless of PD-L1 expression, in comparison to the control arm, the drug giant noted.

Tecentriq in combination with nab-paclitaxel is currently approved in more than 70 countries worldwide, including the US and across Europe, for the treatment of adults with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic TNBC in people whose tumours express PD-L1 (IC≥1%).

IMpassion031 data will be discussed with health authorities globally, including the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, with a view to expanding the current scope of the drug.

Tecentriq is a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor approved in the US, EU and countries around the world, either alone or in combination with targeted therapies and/or chemotherapies for non-small cell and small cell lung cancer, certain types of metastatic urothelial cancer and in PD-L1-positive metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. In the US, the drug is also approved in combination with Avastin for people with unresectable or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma.