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10 April, 2019 - 12:49 By Tony Quested

AstraZeneca wins EU backing for Cambridge-born breast cancer drug

Steve Jackson

AstraZeneca and US partner MSD Inc.,have won European Commission approval for blockbuster candidate Lynparza (olaparib) for treatment of breast cancer – a treatment originated and developed in Cambridge. 

The EC has backed the candidate as a monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with germline BRCA1/2-mutations (gBRCAm), and who have human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative locally-advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Under the licensed indication, patients should have previously been treated with an anthracycline and a taxane in the (neo)adjuvant or metastatic setting unless they were unsuitable for these treatments. 

Patients with hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer should also have progressed on or after prior endocrine therapy, or be considered unsuitable for endocrine therapy.

Dave Fredrickson, AstraZeneca’s executive VP for oncology, said: “With this approval, Lynparza provides patients throughout the EU with a targeted and oral chemotherapy-free treatment option for a difficult-to-treat cancer. 

“It also reinforces the importance of testing for biomarkers including BRCA, hormone receptor and HER2 expression, helping physicians to make the most informed treatment decisions for patients.”

Roy Baynes, senior VP and head of global clinical development and chief medical officer, MSD Research Laboratories, said: that in the OlympiAD trial, which supported this approval, Lynparza “demonstrated a meaningful improvement in progression-free survival compared to chemotherapy in patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic breast cancer.”

He added: “We look forward to making this new option available across the EU where we hope it will improve outcomes for many patients.”

This is the third indication for Lynparza in the EU and AstraZeneca and MSD are working together to deliver Lynparza as quickly as possible to more patients across multiple settings. 

Lynparza has a broad clinical development programme, including the ongoing Phase III OlympiA which is testing Lynparza as an adjuvant treatment in patients with gBRCAm HER2-negative breast cancer.

The roots of the drug lie in Steve Jackson’s productive Cambridge laboratory. AstraZeneca took on development of olaparib after two decades of pioneering work by Professor Jackson’s team.

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