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Abraxis Chemotherapy Drug Prolongs Life in Pancreatic Cancer

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May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Abraxis BioScience Inc.’s drug Abraxane benefitted more than one-third of pancreatic-cancer patients who didn’t respond to a standard treatment, a study found.

In the trial, 19 patients whose cancer didn’t improve on Eli Lilly & Co.’s chemotherapy drug Gemzar were given Abraxane. At the six-month mark, 11 of the patients were alive. Five patients had survived at a one-year follow-up, including one patient whose disease had stabilized, according to data the company will present at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology next month.

More than 42,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and about 35,000 people died of the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. The one-year survival rate is about 20 percent, making it one of the deadliest cancers.

“The success of Abraxane in patients with pancreatic cancer supports our belief and understanding of how the nab-driven chemotherapy leverages the tumor biology against itself to increase efficacy,” Patrick Soon-Shiong, executive chairman and founder of Los Angeles-based Abraxis, said in a statement.

Abraxane’s “nab” technology combines the proven chemotherapy paclitaxel, from New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb, with the protein albumin, allowing the drug to be given at a higher dose, according to a company fact sheet. The median survival for patients getting the treatment was 7.3 months.

Abraxane is approved for treating metastatic breast cancer and is in testing for lung and pancreatic cancer.

The results on Abraxane were among 4,500 scientific summaries released today by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in advance of the organization’s conference in Chicago, which begins June 4. Another Abraxis presentation on June 7 will show the results of a study of Abraxane as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced lung cancer.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ellen Gibson in New York at egibson9@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.