Abraxane outperforms Taxol in lung cancer study

* Abraxane proved safe, with few major side effects

* Overall and progression-free Survival data yet to come

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO, June 5 (BestGrowthStock) – Abraxis Bioscience Inc (ABII.O: )
said its cancer drug Abraxane outperformed the generic drug
Taxol in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, without
requiring patients to take steroids or antihistamines, U.S.
researchers said on Saturday.

They said 33 percent of patients who got Abraxane in
combination with the chemotherapy drug carboplatin responded to
it, compared with 25 percent of patients who got chemotherapy
combined with Taxol, a drug developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb
(BMY.N: ) that is available generically as paclitaxel.

The 31 percent improvement in response met the study’s main
goal, said Dr. Mark Socinski of the University of North
Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, who presented
his findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology
meeting in Chicago.

A small group of patients with difficult-to-treat squamous
cell carcinoma showed a 67 percent improvement on Abraxane
compared with the Taxol combination.

Abraxane is a chemotherapy treatment that is already
approved for use in metastatic breast cancer.

The drug is an enhanced version of paclitaxel that uses the
human protein albumin to deliver the drug rather than chemical
solvents, which can cause hypersensitivity reactions.

“Our understanding of the biology of tumors is that tumors
appear to act like albumin sponges,” Socinski said.

“We all would like chemotherapy to go exactly where you
need it to go and not necessarily the rest of the body,”
Socinski said in a telephone interview.

“Obviously this does not concentrate all of the
chemotherapy in the tumor, but it concentrates preferentially
in the tumor.”

Patients who got Abraxane were also less likely to develop
sensory neuropathy — a nerve condition that can cause a
feeling of pins and needles in the fingers and toes.

Only 3 percent of patients treated with Abraxane got the
side effect, compared with about 10 percent with Taxol.

“It can be function limiting — you can have trouble
buttoning your shirt or getting a dollar bill out of your
wallet,” Socinski said.

None of the patients who took Abraxane had any infusion
reactions that can occur with Taxol, and they were able to take
the drug without using antihistamines or high-dose steroids.

“I think one of the advantages with Abraxane is that you
don’t need to worry about the premedications,” Socinski said.

Other measures of drug performance, such overall survival
and a measurement known as progression-free survival — how
long patients go without their cancer getting worse — are
still being analyzed, Socinski said.

Analysts said ahead of the meeting the drug needs to prove
a significant benefit in those measures to win widespread use.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung
cancer, which is the No. 1 cancer killer globally, claiming 1.2
million lives a year.

Investment Tools

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Richard Chang)

Abraxane outperforms Taxol in lung cancer study