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Covid-19 Pharma Stars Continue Their Quest To Set New Standards In Cancer Treatment

Covid-19 Pharma Stars Continue Their Quest To Set New Standards In Cancer Treatment
Covid-19 Pharma Stars Continue Their Quest To Set New Standards In Cancer Treatment

AstraZeneca PLC (NASDAQ: AZN) kicked off the week by receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its blockbuster cancer drug Imfinzi combined with chemotherapy being used as a treatment forpatients suffering from specific type of endometrial cancer. Its pharma peer, BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) wasn’t as lucky as also on Monday, the FDA put its experimental cancer drug study on partial clinical hold.

Combining Immunotherapy And Chemotherapy Is Emerging As A New Standard In Cancer Treatment

On Monday, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company revealed its late-stage trial  showed that the combination of Imfinzi and chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel, followed by Imfinzi by itself, reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 58% in adult suffering from primary, advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer that is mismatch repair deficient (dMMR), compared to chemotherapy alone. Endometrial cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer among women in the U.S.


AstraZeneca is certainly not the first drug maker to test this combined approach. Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) and Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) developed an experimental mRNA vaccine and tested it combined with Merck’s blockbuster immunotherapy drug, Keyytuda, as a treatment for melanoma. On June 3rd, Moderna and Merck revealed their combined treatment improved survival rates and showed durable efficacy in a midstage study in patients suffering from this deadly form of skin cancer. Nearly 75% of patients that received the experimental vaccine Moderna and Merck developed, along with Keytruda, were alive without any signs or symptoms of their cancer returning after two and a half years. The overall survival rate of those patients who received the combined treatment that Moderna and Merck developed was 96% after the two-and-a-half-year period. Moreover, Merck and Moderna are expanding the scope of their trial by testing their combined treatment in patients diagnosed with a type of lung cancer.

BioNTech Faces A Setback On Its Oncology Journey

Like Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), with which it developed the revolutionary COVID-19 vaccine, BioNTech is turning to cancer drugs in response to declining post-pandemic sales. The antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), was being studied in a trial sponsored by China-based MediLink, in patients diagnosed with types of non-small cell lung cancer or breast cancer who underwent prior treatment. On Monday, the U.S. health regulator expressed concerns that at higher doses, thedrug could expose patients to unreasonable and significant risk of illness or injuries. Upon the news, BioNTech stated that the partial hold affects the enrollment of new patients in the trial in the U.S.

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