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AstraZeneca to co-market nanotechnology cancer drug

Published on 04/05/06 at 10:44am

Groundbreaking nanotechnology is behind a new drug, which AstraZeneca and co-marketers Abraxis BioScience believe could be a major advance in cancer treatment.

Abraxane is a re-formulation of the well-established cancer drug paclitaxel, but through the use of cutting-edge nanotechnology, the new version has none of the hypersensitivity problems associated with the standard formulation, and can be administered to patients faster.

The solvents used in taxane-based cancer therapy are linked to serious side effects, which also limit the effectiveness of the drug itself.

Patients currently have to be given steroids before receiving the chemotherapy, and in some patients this can lead to hyperglycaemia, immunosuppression and insomnia.

In Abraxane, paclitaxel is bound instead to albumin, a protein that naturally transports nutrients within the body and thus has virtually no side effects.

Clinical trials show that patients have significantly better response rates to Abraxane compared to standard paclitaxel.

Data from a phase III trial of women with metastatic breast cancer who had failed prior combination chemotherapy, Abraxane demonstrated a significantly higher response rate than the standard formulation of the drug.

The drug was approved in the US in January 2005, and earned its manufacturers $134 million in its first year on the market.

AstraZeneca has now paid $200 million to co-promote the drug in the US, and should be able to rapidly increase sales of the drug with support of its large salesforce.

The Anglo-Swedish company will also be given first refusal to market the drug in other global markets such as Europe, though the companies say no plans have yet been finalised.

Abraxis is currently developing its lead drug to treat a range of different cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian, prostate, adjuvant breast, melanoma, head and neck and upper GI cancers.

The outlook for AstraZeneca's product pipeline has suffered in recent years, with a number of key late-stage products falling by the wayside, including cancer treatment Iressa.

Over the last 12 months, the company has stepped up efforts to in-licence new technologies and products, and the deal with Abraxis will help boost its oncology portfolio, traditionally one of AstraZeneca's strongest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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