UPDATE 1-Early Data Promising for AstraZeneca Cancer Drug Combination

The gist: Researchers found promising results for a new lung cancer treatment in a clinical trial—a research study with volunteer patients. The immunotherapy treatment combines the drugs MEDI4736 and tremelimumab. It is meant to boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.

“Early results for a closely watched cancer drug combination from AstraZeneca that boosts the immune system show the cocktail is promising, though limited patient numbers mean the data is far from conclusive.

“The British drugmaker, which fended off a $118 billion takeover bid from Pfizer in May in part by talking up its cancer drug prospects, has high hopes for the combination of two experimental drugs known as MEDI4736 and tremelimumab.

“The company is still exploring a range of doses, so testing of the drugs in lung cancer is taking time to yield results and data on only two dozen patients was reported at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress on Saturday.

“Chief Executive Pascal Soriot had said earlier this month that the ESMO numbers would be limited.

“Still, researcher Scott Antonia of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida said the early signals were encouraging, both for safety and efficacy. ‘It looks very, very promising, he said.

“AstraZeneca expects to have more definitive results later this year and also plans to start a pivotal clinical trial with the combination either late this year or at the start of 2015.”