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The Lancet Oncology

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Approval of Nilotinib Gives Patients With Newly Diagnosed Ph+ Chronic Myeloid Leukemia New Medical Option

The European Commission has approved nilotinib (Tasigna®, Novartis) as a treatment for adult patients with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+ CML) in chronic phase.

Nilotinib is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in the chronic phase. The new agent has also been approved in over 90 countries for the treatment of chronic phase and accelerated phase Ph+ CML in adult patients resistant or intolerant to at least one prior therapy, including imatinib (Glivec®; known as Gleevec® in the USA, Canada and Israel)[8]. The effectiveness of nilotinib for this indication is based on confirmed hematologic and unconfirmed cytogenetic response rates. There are no controlled trials demonstrating a clinical benefit, such as improvement in disease-related symptoms or increased survival.

The approval from the European Commission followed a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). It is based on findings from a pivotal Phase III trial demonstrating superiority to the standard of care imatinib in achieving molecular and cytogenetic response and delaying cancer progression. These data were first published in the June 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine [1] and were confirmed by 18-month median follow-up data presented at the 46th American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting held in June 2010 [2].

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Swissmedic and Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have also approved nilotinib in this first-line indication. Regulatory submissions are under review in other countries worldwide.

"We are pleased that Tasigna is now approved for newly diagnosed Ph+ CML patients in chronic phase in the member states of the European Union," said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology. "With this expanded indication, newly diagnosed patients can benefit from a Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor that, according to pivotal data, surpassed the standard of care Glivec, in key measures of efficacy, including delaying disease progression at 12 months."

In laboratory studies, nilotinib has been shown to be a potent and selective inhibitor of the Bcr-Abl protein that causes production of cancer cells in Ph+ CML,[3]. It has also been shown to be active against a broad spectrum of Bcr-Abl mutations associated with resistance to imatinib [4].

In its pivotal head-to-head trial, nilotinib surpassed imatinib in key measures of treatment efficacy, as has been reported. nilotinib eliminated Bcr-Abl faster and more deeply than imatinib and resulted in lower rates of cancer progression after 12 months of therapy[1]. Major molecular response (MMR), a measure of deep reduction in Bcr-Abl, is considered to be a critical therapeutic milestone associated with good long-term outcomes for patients with Ph+ CML in chronic phase[5]-[7]. Treatment with nilotinib led to higher rates of both MMR and complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) (undetectable levels of the Philadelphia chromosome that is the hallmark of this cancer) compared with imatinib [1].

After a median of 18 months of follow-up treatment, two patients on the nilotinib 300 mg twice daily arm progressed to either accelerated phase or blast crisis while 17 patients on the imatinib arm progressed to either accelerated phase or blast crisis. In the study, nilotinib and imatinib were generally well tolerated. Fewer patients discontinued due to adverse events from the nilotinib 300 mg twice daily arm of the study compared to the imatinib 400 mg once daily arm.

The randomized, open-label, multicenter trial, called ENESTnd (Evaluating Nilotinib Efficacy and Safety in Clinical Trials of Newly Diagnosed Ph+ CML Patients), compared the efficacy and safety of nilotinib versus imatinib in adult patients with newly diagnosed Ph+ CML in chronic phase[1]. It is the largest global randomized comparison of two oral therapies ever conducted in newly diagnosed Ph+ CML patients in chronic phase.

This year, Novartis also began collaboration with molecular diagnostics company Cepheid to develop a new FDA cleared/approved Bcr-Abl test, which adheres to the International Scale. The goal of the collaboration is to help doctors more reliably monitor Ph+ CML patients. Cepheid and Novartis also will develop a next generation test, which is expected to enable even more sensitive testing, indicating the depth of a patient's response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors, including nilotinib and imatinib. Currently, there are no FDA cleared/approved tests to monitor for Bcr-Abl.

Earlier this month nilotinib was also approved by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to offer as a treatment for adult patients with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+ CML) in chronic phase.

[1] Saglio G, Kim D-W, Surapol Issaragrisil S, et al. Nilotinib versus imatinib for newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jun 17;362(24):2251-9.
[2] Larson R, Philipp le Coutre, Reiffers J, Hughes T. et al. Nilotinib is Superior to Imatinib in Patients (pts) with Newly Diagnosed Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in Chronic Phase (CML-CP): ENESTnd Beyond One Year. Abstract # CRA6501. American Society of Clinical Oncology 2010 Annual Meeting
[3] le Coutre P, Ottmann OG, Giles F, et al. Nilotinib (formerly AMN107), a highly selective BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is active in patients with imatinib-resistant or-intolerant accelerated-phase chronic myelogenous leukemia. Blood. 2008 Feb 15;111(4):1834-9.
[4] Swords R, Mahalingam D, Padmanabhan S, et al. Nilotinib: optimal therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and resistance or intolerance to imatinib. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2009 Sep 21;3:89-101
[5] Hochhaus A, O'Brien SG, Guilhot F,et al. IRIS Investigators. Six-year follow-up of patients receiving imatinib for the first-line treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Leukemia. 2009 Jun;23(6):1054-61.
[6] Müller MC, Hanfstein B, Erben P, et al. Molecular response to first line imatinib therapy is predictive for long term event free survival in patients with chronic phase chronic myelogenous leukemia - an interim analysis of the randomized German CML Study IV. Blood (ASH Annual Meeting Abstracts) 2008, 112: Abstract 333.
[7] Baccarani M, Cortes J, Pane F, et al. Chronic myeloid leukemia: an update of concepts and management recommendations of European LeukemiaNet. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Dec 10;27(35):6041-51.
[8] Glivec® (imatinib) prescribing information. Basel, Switzerland: Novartis International AG; March 2009

For more information:
[9] Summary of Product Characteristics (Nilotinib, Tasigna®)
[10] EPAR Summary for the Public.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

News Study Shows: Annual Breast Cancer Screening Beginning at Age 40 Reduces Mastectomy Risk

Having a yearly mammogram greatly reduces the risk of mastectomy following breast cancer in women between the ages of 40 and 50, according to a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (November 28 - December 3, 2010, McCormick Place, Chicago).

"The results of this study support the importance of regular screening in the 40 to 50 age group," said lead author Nicholas M. Perry, M.B.B.S., F.R.C.S., F.R.C.R., director of The London Breast Institute at The Princess Grace Hospital in London. "Women in this age group who had undergone mammography the previous year had a mastectomy rate of less than half that of the others."

An estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2010. Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends annual mammography screening for women beginning at age 40 in the U.S., but last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended changing the guidelines to begin screening biennially (every other year) at age 50. There are no routine screening guidelines for women under 50 in the U.K.

The researchers studied the benefits of screening women between the ages of 40 and 50, the frequency of mammography and the type of treatment after breast cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Perry and colleagues reviewed the clinical data available on women from 40 to 50 that had been diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at The London Breast Institute. Between 2003 and 2009, 971 women had been diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time of diagnosis, 393 (40%) of the women were under 50, with 156 of these women completing treatment at the center. Of the treated women, 114 (73%) had no prior mammograms. Forty-two women had been previously screened with mammography, of whom 29 had at least one mammogram within the previous two years. Of those, 16 women had a mammogram one year prior.

"We reviewed the records of the women needing mastectomy to determine whether or not they had undergone mammography the previous year," Dr. Perry said. "We were surprised at the degree of benefit obtained from yearly screening in this age group."

Data showed that mastectomy was the required treatment for 3 (19%) of the 16 women who had been screened the prior year, compared to 64 (46%) of the 140 women who had not been screened in the past year.

"Regular screening is already proven to lower the chance of women dying from breast cancer," Dr. Perry said. "The results of our study support the importance of regular screening in the under-50 age group and confirm that annual mammography improves the chances of breast conservation should breast cancer develop."

Dr. Perry's coauthors for this article are Sue Milner, B.Sc., D.C.R., Kefah Mokbel, M.B.B.S., M.S., F.R.C.S., Stephen W. Duffy, B.Sc., M.Sc., and Katja Pinker, M.D.

For more information
Prior Mammography in Women Aged 40-50 at a UK Center in Accordance with ACS Guidelines Lowers Mastectomy Rate Following Breast Cancer (Abstract)

This article was first published online at Onco'Zine - The International Cancer Network