Novartis ends cancer trial early after hitting endpoint

Novartis has brought a late-stage study of its kidney cancer drug everolimus to a premature close after an independent review committee determined the therapy had extended patients' lives without disease progression--the primary endpoint. The oral drug--formerly code named RAD001--works by inhibiting the mTOR protein, which regulates cell division in tumors, much like Wyeth's Torisel. Complete data will be presented at the ASCO meeting in May. And Novartis plans to examine the therapy's use in other cancers.

"This progression-free survival benefit demonstrates the possibilities of continuous mTOR inhibition as a promising target in oncology," said David Epstein, head of Novartis' oncology unit. "Everolimus is the first compound in our dynamic oncology late-stage pipeline with six compounds in registration trials to show exciting clinical data this year."

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