Atezolizumab Increases Survival, Shrinks Tumors in Lung Cancer Patients

Patients treated with atezolizumab lived an average of 7.7 months longer than people treated with docetaxel chemotherapy.

Patients treated with atezolizumab lived an average of 7.7 months longer than people treated with docetaxel chemotherapy.

Genentech recently presented positive results from a pair of phase 2 studies that evaluated the investigational cancer immunotherapy drug atezolizumab in people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The POPLAR study met its primary endpoint as the drug showed a statistically significant survival benefit compared with traditional chemotherapy in people with recurrent NSCLC whose tumors expressed medium and high levels of PD-L1. Patients treated with atezolizumab lived an average of 7.7 months longer than people treated with docetaxel chemotherapy.

A separate phase 2 study called BIRCH showed that atezolizumab effectively shrank tumors in up to 27% of people whose disease progressed on prior treatment regimens and also expressed higher levels of PD-L1. In both studies, adverse reactions were comparable to those observed in previous studies.

“Results from both of our studies in non-small cell lung cancer showed that measuring PD-L1 may help identify people most likely to respond to atezolizumab, and the majority of responses continued when these data were assessed,” said Sandra Horning, MD, chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “Durable responses are meaningful for people whose cancer has progressed on other medicines, and we plan to submit these results to global health authorities to bring this potential new option to people as soon as possible.”

Atezolizumab received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from FDA in February 2015 for the treatment of people whose NSCLC expressed PD-L1 and whose disease worsened during or after standard treatments.

Genentech is currently discussing the data in NSCLC from POPLAR and BIRCH with the FDA as part of its Breakthrough Therapy Designation as well as with other health care authorities around the world. There are currently 7 ongoing phase 3 studies of atezolizumab alone or in combination with other medications for various types of lung cancer.