New data from a Phase III trial of AstraZeneca and MSD’s Lynparza (olaparib) has shown that 22% of patients receiving the monotherapy remained free of disease progression after two years vs. 10% on placebo, making the drug the first PARP inhibitor to demonstrate benefit in three different cancer types.

The POLO trial tested the tablets as 1st-line maintenance monotherapy for patients with germline BRCA-mutated (gBRCAm) metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (pancreatic cancer) whose disease had not progressed following standard-of-care platinum-based 1st-line chemotherapy.

The results were announced at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, US, and also published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

José Baselga, executive vice president, Oncology R&D, said: “These unprecedented results raise new hope for patients that have seen little progress over a long period of time”, as results from the trial showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) for the treatment compared to placebo, improving the time without disease progression by a median of 7.4 months.

Roy Baynes, chief medical officer at MSD said the company is “encouraged” by the results, “which showed a considerable reduction in risk of disease progression or death with Lynparza for germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer patients who did not progress on chemotherapy. Currently less than 3% of metastatic pancreatic cancer patients survive more than five years after diagnosis. The results of this trial reinforce MSD and AstraZeneca’s commitment to develop innovative treatments for cancers with few options.”

Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer worldwide, with 458,918 new cases in 2018 alone. With the worst survival rate of all the most common cancers, it is the 4th leading cause of cancer death, and less than 3% of patients with metastatic disease survive more than five years after diagnosis.